Pros: A heartening celebration of sisterhood.
Cons: Eating disorders are poorly understood conditions and I wish the play had delved into it more.
It is estimated that in the UK there are between 600,000 and 725,000 people affected by eating disorders, with anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, further complicated by its tendency to become chronic.
When Alexandra was diagnosed with anorexia, at the age of 19, her sister Kate was only a teenager, being exactly 3 years and 1 week younger. During those times, the siblings didn’t speak much, as Kate withdrew into her personal space, whilst all the parents’ attention went towards the one who’d been given no more than 6 months to live.
It was the year 2015 and Kate was writing in her journal about the theatre shows she’d been seeing and the drama school she dreamed of joining. Meanwhile, Alexandra’s daily written accounts consisted of a very detailed list of what she’d been eating at each meal.
Only a few years later, whilst sitting at a restaurant together, Alexandra found for the first time the courage to ask her sister what it was like during those times, to have a severely ill sister at home. This is how the idea for this show came around, cooking up in Alexandra’s head long time before Kate agreed to be in it.
More of a tale about family support than an actual story about eating disorders, this devised piece shines through for the playfulness of the two sisters. Their unique bond comes across in many ways, in particular when they try to compete for who’s better at what. Both professional actors, their resemblance is striking, although Alexandra is much taller, and Kate is a much more skilled baker, especially when making her sister’s favourite cake (or so she believes), the lemon drizzle.
The show is lovely, albeit leaving too many questions unanswered. Despite being grateful for Alexandra’s willingness to share her experience and shed some light over a poorly understood mental disorder, her personal story is barely there, overshadowed by a glorious celebration of sisterhood. For this piece to be more informative – and eventually inspire those who might be going through the same ordeal – a lot more can be said.
Written, Directed and Performed by: Alexandra and Kate Donnachie
Box Office: 0131 510 0395
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/3-years-1-week-and-a-lemon-drizzle
Booking Until: 27 August 2018