Beyond the immediate injury caused by physical, sexual, emotional, or any other form of abuse, lies a profound scarring of the soul--the mark of a wound so deep that it irrevocably alters the psyche of the victim and consequently the course of his/her life. In Jacqueline Wright's highly disturbing but gripping new play, Tommy (Wright) has endured many such traumas since childhood, and the rage she's internalized about her resulting lost sense of identity and control has so completely consumed her that suicide seems the only solution.
At 75 minutes, Eat Me is relentless from start to finish. It's made all the more so by Martin Carrillo's subtle, creepy underscoring and the overwhelming trashiness of Tommy's shoddy home (scenic designer Barbara Lempel). Additionally the lack of an intermission allows the audience no release from that uncomfortable, proverbial car wreck scenario, with its can't-look/have-to-look magnetism. Tommy's attempt to kill herself is thwarted by a pair of thugs, Frank (Tony Forkush) and primary tormentor Bob (David Ojalvo), who break into her house while she's unconscious, intending to rob and rape her.
Wright's script and Chris Fields' direction offer no-holds-barred drama that is not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach. But the moments of gasp-inducing horror are counterbalanced by a dark scathing humor that leaves audience members shaking their heads in disbelief that they are laughing about the grim situations. The high level of trust between Fields and his cast is admirable. To make a storyline that includes rape, torture, humiliation, and mutilation this persuasive requires a remarkable sense of confidence between actors and director, and everyone has met that challenge. Although Wright is the most vulnerable, she sinks her teeth into Tommy like a hungry pit bull, fighting her fight without remorse every gritty step of the way. And Ojalvo layers Bob's painful journey with intriguing degrees of tenderness and confusion bouncing against his fury. Some may find Eat Me's harrowing plot and imagery gratuitous, but get past the graphic sex and violence, and there's a story of substance to chew on.