For anyone who has been close to an Orthorexia sufferer, Hear Me Raw is a devastating watch. Two years ago a friend of mine came close to dying from the eating disorder, so I was instantly gripped by Daniella Isaacs’ testimony about her own battle against ‘the wellness illness’.
Isaacs’ story is a powerful one. Without flinching she bares the details of a lifelong struggle against anxiety, of the not so glamourous side of health foods (hemp is there to give us ‘nice firm poos’), and of the lasting damage Orthorexia has wrought on her body.
The show’s force comes from more than its heart-breaking content, however, and Isaacs does more than stand and tell her story. A series of innovative directorial choices give the show a tightly choreographed feel: it’s clear that Isaacs and her director Rosy Banham have thought hard about ways to recount experiences that are deeply personal and tricky to put in words. Dramatising the negative thoughts that Orthorexics attach to food, ugly recorded voices emerge from packets of health food, a blender, Isaac’s fridge. Her obsessions become visual as almond milk spills down her front and she smears berries into her skin. These stylised moments are understated and set off nicely what is otherwise an hour of fast-paced monologue from Isaacs.
All this would be nothing without the phenomenal energy of its front woman. It is inspiring to watch someone recount moments in which they have been so fragile, with such endless charisma and vitality. Hear Me Raw ought to be a bleak watch but I came out feeling energised – and that’s thanks to the dynamism that Isaacs gives to her role.