Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016: Bite Me
Photo credit: Romana Farrelly
Nothing tastes as good as Bite Me feels
Several years ago Joanne McNally lost her mind. It slipped out of her head one night and headed for Club Tropicana without even so much as a goodbye note. Over time Louis Walsh moved in to fill the vacancy, and Louis is the man with the plan. Thin is in so Joanne had best get ready for the Bikram burn. And vegetables. Particularly carrots. If Joanne wants to revert back to her birth weight of 7lbs 3oz she needs to binge and purge like her life depends on it. For alongside the thin woman inside Joanne wanting out, there’s another woman too. And she likes her food. She needs it. She can’t help herself. She’ll shoplift to have it. Exploring that often thin line between diet and eating disorder, Joanne McNally’s brilliant ‘Bite Me’ takes a no holds barred, no pity required approach to McNally’s own experiences with an eating disorder in a thoughtful, deeply sensitive, laugh out loud production.
Inspired by McNally’s blog she kept while receiving treatment for an eating disorder, ‘Bite Me’ evolved into its current theatrical form with the “encouragement” of director Una McKevitt. Understanding that McNally is always much more interesting than anything else around her, McKevitt’s direction keeps distraction to a minimum, allowing only a few blow up toys of ice creams and doughtnuts to accompany McNally on stage. Yet while utterly engaging for the most part, the Club Tropicana scene edges close to taking too long to make its point and the carrot eating scene feels like a filler, bringing nothing of real value. Throughout, McNally’s laid back, matter of fact delivery is key to ‘Bite Me’s’ success, allowing her to skate easily from the comic to the confessional to the catastrophic with consummate ease.
Feeling like an adult version of “Inside Out” in places, McNally’s story has two essential ingredients which make it an absolute winner: McNally and her story. ‘Bite Me’ will break your heart, make you think, make you smile before making you laugh out loud. It’s a joy and a delight, and a show everyone should see, especially anyone with experience of diets or eating disorders. A serious topic treated with some serious good fun. Insist it makes a comeback.
‘Bite Me’ by Joanne McNally ran at The Project Arts Centre as part of The Tiger Dublin Fringe.