Review by Rebecca Landale
Eat Sleep Bathe Repeat – A play about Autism
Autism, along with so many disorders which are encountered on a day to day basis, is misunderstood and stigmatised by the masses. This makes it a difficult subject to broach.
It is this fact however, that made Eat Sleep Bathe Repeat such a phenomenal piece of theatre to watch. Writer and director Josh Day bravely kept to a simple story line of the character James – an agency worker with no previous experience of working with disability who, through hurdles and mistakes, highs and lows, overcomes his prejudice and misconceptions of autism.
In the case of this play, such simplicity was genius. The audience was taken on an emotional journey by James, whose nuanced development throughout was superbly portrayed by Luke Merchant. As James learned about autism so did the audience, as he became invested in the residents, so did the audience. However, this is not the only strength of the story line. Although James, along with carers Claire (Emily Broad), Aaron (Alexander Morgan) and Steph (Katie Dougan) shared the majority of the dialogue, a sense of commitment to allowing the play to truly be about the residents was evident. The four actors proudly accepted their role to expose the variations of autism displayed by the residents in Riverside Care Centre. It was this fact which enabled Eat Sleep Bathe Repeat to be suitably educational. This was a wise decision as had the writing been overly dramatised by the relationships between the carers it would have taken away from the main focus of the play: to give the audience an insight into the world of autism.
The highlight for me however, was the residents themselves. Harrison Webb, Sam Borthwick, Soutrik Banerjee, Mike Fahey and Rob Maddison gave outstanding performances, with a consistency and dedication to their different characters. Rob Maddison (Jordan) and Harrison Webb (Lloyd), deserve a special mention for skilful portrayals which were key for the understanding of James’ development. Such dedication and attention to detail included in the performances of all the residents swiftly removed the chance of any awkwardness which may have occurred through clumsy portrayals – something that was clearly taken into account during direction. Although the presence of so many characters meant the stage was overcrowded at times, this actually worked to give a real sense of the unpredictability and resulting chaos of care centres.
As a play regarding such an important issue, Eat Sleep Bathe Repeat has achieved something all involved should be incredibly proud of – a piece that was not only educational and incredibly interesting, but emotional and uplifting!