The devastating effects of an eating disorder and Lewis Carrol’s acclaimed 19th century children’s fantasy Alice in Wonderland would seem to have little in common.
Yet Pear-Shaped, Ziggy Resnick and Miranda Middleton’s new play on stage at Theatre Works, effectively connects the two.
This is best summarised by one of the play’s most memorable lines: “How does Alice leave Wonderland, when Wonderland wants Alice to stay?”
Pear-Shaped tells of the relationship between sisters Frankie (played by Resnick) and Kayla (Luisa Scrofani) who are part of a Jewish family where food is a symbol of culture, tradition, connection and love.
As we learn through flashbacks during the 75-minute play, Frankie and Kayla were close growing up with both sharing a connection to Alice in Wonderland.
When 23-year-old Frankie is allocated Alice in Wonderland as her graduating design project at drama school, she’s not happy given the challenges in designing the children’s story and her relationship with the director.
The project also brings back numerous memories especially when Kayla drops off a childhood box of costumes which Frankie had requested from her workaholic mother.
Frankie hoped the box might inspire some ideas but instead it brings back some painful memories especially as the box is delivered by Kayla.
Through the items in the box and the interaction between the sisters we learn of Kayla’s spiral towards anorexia and the impact of this debilitating condition on all family members.
Characters such as Alice, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts, together with some clever lighting and puppetry, link Alice’s travels down the rabbit hole with the sisters’ struggles.
The show’s two hard working stars play all the `characters’ appear on stage. In addition to Kayla, Scrofani also plays Alice, Kayla’s mother and her grandmother.
Resnick portrays all the other characters.
It comes as no surprise to discover the play is semi-autobiographical. As Resnick explains: “Pear-Shaped is part made of both imaged and real experiences.”
The dialogue and actions of both sisters suggest a real understanding of this terrible condition which affects so many individuals and their families.
Pear-Shaped is playing at Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street St Kilda until April 15. Visit the Theatre Works website for further information and tickets.
*Photo credit: Angel Leggas.
Jenny Burns attended opening night as a guest of the production company.
- live shows, Melbourne, reviews
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