Capital Fringe Review: ‘Breaking Up With Ed’ by Jessica Vaughan

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Breaking up with Ed was not written so much as collected by Angela Pitko but from survivors of eating disorders. Five actors – Caroline O’Grady, Rebecca Philips, Anika Harden, Stefanie Garcia, and Vince Eisenson – draw costumes from boxes on stage as they flow from one character to another, speaking as survivors, husbands, mothers, nutritionists, and friends of people with this disease. Some of the stories connect and you hear from them throughout the piece; some speak once, highlighting different experiences. Most describe when it started and the moment they got help, since it seems a universal symptom is denial. They do briefly talk of recovery and what it feels like to leave it behind.

One particularly powerful scene comes when a woman shouts directly to “Ed.” It’s as if it is a living being that she’s breaking up with. The moment is striking and hard to watch. Not every moment is so heavy. Sometimes it’s painfully funny, as when one husband bemoans the fact that cheese is not interesting in any way and can they just do something else now?

The stories skew towards young high school and college students, and they do dwell on numbers and specifics of behaviors, so if you have struggled with this, beware of getting triggered. And while it is very, very powerful to hear these stories, I’m not certain who the audience is. For those familiar with disordered eating, it’s an unpleasant walk down memory lane. For those who have not suffered, I don’t know that it would enlighten – as the survivors themselves have no idea why it started or how exactly they stopped.

In the end, they have accomplished what they set out to do: collect the stories of people with eating disorders and dramatize them. If you know someone with this or want more information or are in the mood for powerful drama, this would be the show. 100% of the profits go to the National Eating Disorders Association.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to our Fringe Preview.

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