(4 / 5)
A simplistic staging – we are greeted with a blank space, the floor filled with cylindrical tubes and in the corner, a dolphin.
Immediately this is comical and theme of comedy runs through this clever piece to counteract the raw topic. Tell Me Anything is the theatrical adaptation of David’s teenage years with his first love, who happens to have an eating disorder. This takes over their love and their relationship, as we see his side of the story. This is a new take on such a topic, seeing it through the eyes of a loved one, without the character whose disorder it is. David makes it very clear that his development of the piece isn’t without his former girlfriend, and now friend, Kate’s input and knowledge of the piece.
With mostly a true narrative, excerpts from his diary, emails and memories, it’s hard not to feel warmth in the piece and the love he had at the age of 15. Unfortunately the only thing with this is that is feels a little fairy tale; the ‘true love’ tales of conversations, feelings and interactions seem so blissful that at times it’s hard to really believe such things; the performance then feeling a little fantasy like – or maybe that is just the cynic in me talking?
David interacts with us constantly – his narration directed to us, involving us by asking us questions and also asking us to close our eyes and put ourselves in his shoes – this feels intimate and struck a chord with myself as being asked to envisage someone we love just as he describes his love for Kate, bringing up personal feelings of loss, love and all the in between.
The lovey dovey nature, soon takes comical turns when he creates satires through his energy and vocal inflections to show the silly nature of 15 year olds. And then it gets dark – his anger, his hopelessness and his pain shines through, even 14 years later it is evident on his face and in his performance. A theme throughout is that it isn’t about him, it’s about her, but this shows exactly how invested he is in his story to show both sides, without the other participant.
The lighting is simple, and it changes to flicker when anxiety and anger rises. The tubes are like a minefield, or like ‘treading on egg shells’ as he manoeuvres himself through them– the more the story deteriorates and their relationship does, the tubes and their movement by David as less controlled and begin to fall. An interesting representation of control and descent of happiness. And of course, the dolphin. The representation of being the dolphin who gently helps and nudges those in need, is brought in as support, strapped to David’s back, and later, is let out of air and crumbles as David does.
Tell Me Anything is full of theatrical symbolism, heartfelt emotion and a real life and raw story. A piece of theatre that resonates with anyone who has tried, hopelessly, to help someone they love.