Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Old Red Lion Theatre, London
Cast: Matsume Kai

Meet Hole. She’s been told by a woman in a strip lighted, white-walled, disinfectant-smelling room that she has Binge Eating Disorder. It’s not a particularly sexy name, but it is what it says on the tin. Her mother, her teacher, they each try to help but only make things worse. She’s hollow, she’s hungry all the time and she doesn’t know why. And then from nowhere The Child appears. She doesn’t understand, but she knows she needs to follow The Child and go… down.

Hole is playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Angel running from the 11 - 22 June. It's a small venue above a pub, but perfect for this one-person show. This is a new play by Hannah Morrish, under the direction of David Fairs and Conor O'Kane, which tackles the difficult subject of eating disorders.  

The stage is dark with slim white incomplete mannequins scattered around. Tube lighting is used to suggest emotional changes, changing from white to colour then multi coloured. Its intimate setting and seating arrangement keeps the audience very close to the performer which works well for the production at hand.

Hole enters the stage in traditional Japanese costume, gradually undressing to western clothes worn for the rest of the play. Hole, played by Matsume Kai, has binge eating disorder. Her mother and teacher try to help but seemingly make things worse. In each of these scenes Matsume switches roles seamlessly, daughter and mother and pupil and teacher, remembering past conversations. Both scenes are emotionally charged and painful to watch, but Matsume's performance is perfect.

Hole is hollow and always hungry and can't understand why. Then a child appears to lead her down into a dark hollow space. We follow her as each scene takes her further down until she reaches the deepest depths. This is a physical journey with Matsume using parts of the set to suggest climbing, crawling and swimming through different terrains. Once at the bottom she meets a nightmarish, huge creature with tackled hair omitting an unbearable smell. She sees objects, realising each item is a memory. Hole has to face her demons and try to understand the cause of her disorder.

This is a difficult subject to tackle in a play, particularly as most of the production is set in Hole's nightmarish dream world. Hannah Morrish writes with passion and is unflinching. Matsume Kai's performance is sad, vulnerable, powerful and heart wrenching.

You can book tickets to see Hole at the Old Red Lion Theatre, here.

**photo credit: Charles Flint**

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