The madness of Edinburgh Fringe inevitably breeds a lack of wellbeing and an appalling diet, such is the rush to scamper from show to networking event and back again, ad nauseam. Good thing for Daniella Isaacs, who is here to ensure we eat healthily and increase our wellness factors. We start with an aura-cleansing squat, releasing those negative toxins to be metabolised in our bodies. I feel limber already. Just a couple of seconds until Isaacs’ mum gets here and we can watch the live filming of her latest Hear Me Raw episode…
Except Mum doesn’t arrive and Isaacs starts to spiral. She instantly conveys anxiety and begins breaking apart under the harsh TV spotlights. Hear Me Raw teaches us to stay clean, not dirty; stay well, not sick. But the smiling exterior cannot keep the internal demons from seeping out in spectacular fashion. Hear Me Raw is a call for help as much as a call to arms – Isaacs is desperate for family approval to mask her insecurities and prove her worth. Anxiety turns into dysmorphic tendencies and addictive traits – the food, the diet, the wellness is simply the latest outlet in Isaacs’ constant battle.
Hear Me Raw has an unsettling believability to it, a clever ruse that makes us question the validity and expertise of the charade from the start. It genuinely feels as though this could be another self-help, get-fit craze, such is Isaacs ability to convince us as strongly as she has convinced herself. But there are sporadic jumps between past and present that confuse the narrative and lessen the impact of her journey. From sharing food in public places to the constant pressure from family through illness and expectation, Isaacs never receives the support she consistently requires. There is a rare moment of familial tenderness that Isaacs highlights with her great grandmother – 104 years old and never worried about new-fangled healthy eating fads in her life. This is youth against experience, the inability to pull the wool over the eyes of such wisdom. Isaacs is exposed by the gentle chiding of her ancestor’s direct questioning.
Hear Me Raw briefly highlights the modern-day damage that an Internet education has caused. Why listen to the professionals when we can Google the symptoms, or the solutions? Isaacs will benefit from expanding this more within the narrative, exploring the battle between the professional advice and the quick fix that we demand, such is the pace of our lives today. But Isaacs chooses an alternative, equally valid choice to focus on the underlying issues inherent with an obsession over food. In an exposing and vulnerable display, she summarises her past battles with hypochondria and a chronic fear of dying – a well-conceived contrast that no one is prepared to talk about their worries, or if they do it can only be followed with an emotional breakdown. Issacs simply and plainly airs out her concerns without fear of crying or the need to deconstruct. It’s refreshing and more impactful – a no holds barred, no nonsense admission.
Ultimately, by spending our time in fear of the negative, we miss out on living that is the true crux of wellbeing within Hear Me Raw. There’s a sense of a lecture in the latter parts of the show, but Isaacs holds a mirror up to the Instagram generation and notion of fitness. Life has no recipe to follow – sometimes you have to throw ingredients together and hope that the end result is easy to digest.
Hear Me Raw plays Underbelly George Square as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 27 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.