Lady Eats Apple is modern theatre in three independent acts from Australian group Back to Back Theatre on themes of identity, life, and death. On one hand a story of Creation and grand spectacle, on the other a meditation on humanity and small meaningful moments.
The members of Back to Back are all neurodivergent to some degree, or "disabled" in perhaps needlessly pathologising common parlance. As the stories unfold, the group indeed proves extraordinarily capable. With their unique faculties, literally defying the norm, they are all able to make the ordinary remarkable in the most brilliant way. Bruce Gladwin, the Artistic Director, serves as the catalyst for the show.
Lady Eats Apple is smart theatre, acutely self-aware and personal, and able to hold the audience well in hand. Simple, insightful commentary on the human condition. Matters of the heart, career prospects, alarming situations. All delivered gently, disarmingly, with warm humour.
The combined production teams of Back to Back, LiFT, and Barbican Theatre have gone to great lengths to set up a whole experience on the grand Barbican stage, transformed. Technology is expertly leveraged to make the performance and the space fit the concept and the group and the audience. Where delivery and body have limitations, the playing field has been creatively levelled.
Dynamic audio is prominently featured, from whispers to billowing soundscapes of creation. The frequently unusual dialogue is precise in its manner, execution, and effect. Conversation carries the three short stories, perhaps to a slightly too great a degree, and yet the pacing is spot on.
The first act is intriguing, symbolic and contemporary, and doesn't shy away from big themes. The transition to the second act is a bit of a stretch, almost too much to bear, but the resolution is impressive and rewarding. The second act itself is wonderfully human. The final act gets a bit of a false start and feels momentarily idle, but then resolves beautifully into an inspired Pietà. Somehow, magically, we come full circle.
Lady Eats Apple is wonderful, deep theatre from the most overlooked among us.