Written by Yve Blake, MKA’s Sugar Sugar delineates the journey of a young woman as she shifts from adolescence into adulthood. This manifests as a downward spiral into a bulimia that consumes the protagonist and her vitality.
The piece is a bildungsroman (a coming of age story), which examines the disturbing trend of eating disorders within a contemporary setting. It is within such a setting that we witness the isolating impact that the trappings of our age have upon the individual. Through this interaction, it illustrates the impact of the force-fed messages presented by the wider social community: eat less, detox, travel, make money, get fit and look good.
Stylistically, Sugar Sugar sits within the realm of naturalism in its representation of subjectivity. The protagonist’s ego-made-manifest (Gareth Trew) invokes and propels her illness as it devours her throughout the course of the play.
The design elements of the show incorporate multimedia and a set that caters for the frequent and rapid scene changes. Similarly the performance tackled well the speed and comic timing latent within the dramatic writing. Of particular note is (Rachael Besselink) in her humorous representation of a vacuous health food shop assistant.
The messages behind the piece are noble and evocative. However, it presents itself as a perpetual spiral of inner turmoil and fails to render adequate dramatic conflict, a constant and unwavering struggle. Yet there are moments of comedy that create some great shifts in mood and tempo as well as the colourful, candy-fuelled explosions of eat-vomit-rave-repeat, which are scrumptiously unnerving and vibrant.
Sugar Sugar is a traditional piece exploring a contemporary issue. The text and dialogue is refined and there are some truly powerful images. Ultimately, it aims towards a depiction of a serious illness, but falls short of a deeper emotional engagement with the protagonist.