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Stegosaurus review at Etcetera Theatre, London – ‘a mordant monologue’

Elpida Stathatou in Stegosaurus at EtCetera Theatre, London
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According Ersi Niaoti’s one-woman play Stegosaurus, one of the many myths perpetuated by Hollywood is how easy it is to be bulimic. A movie bulimic simply sticks two fingers down her throat and everything comes out in one go. In reality, it takes a lot more careful effort and several rounds of retching.

The unnamed 30-year-old protagonist played by Elpida Stathatou arrives on stage dancing manically; we learn that she is living with her parents after a series of hospitalisations and failed relationships. A monologue is a form of therapy in itself, exploring the most consuming relationship in her life: her relationship with food and its power to make her feel dirty, and ‘cleansing’ through vomiting and starvation.

Stathatou emphatically portrays this volatile young woman a bundle of uncontrolled energy, prone to eating up her edible homemade face masks and sleeping with her head in a pizza box retrieved from the dustbin.

Less successful is the depiction of her relationships with others. The out-of-bounds relationship with her psychiatrist is gratuitous and pushes credibility, and little regard is paid to the effect that her illness must have had on her parents

The title is justified by Stathatou’s character’s fetishisation of her own bones and fantasy being more bone than flesh, like such an extinct creature on display in a museum. These warped ideals seem hopelessly entrenched in her psyche, emphasising the painfully sad reality of the mind’s power to trick the body with the utmost cruelty.

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Mordant monologue exploring the destructive nature of multiple eating disorders