Jennie Eggleton’s powerful Close to You comes to Trinity
The following article was submitted to the University Times for publication in November 2013
Jennie Eggleton’s compelling stage drama “Close to You” will be performed in Trinity this coming week, a play that, “speaks for itself”, in the words of its creator and performer of this one woman play, Jennie Eggleton. The show also has an Irish connection, as the director, Anna Simpson, is an alumni of University College Dublin. The play will coming to Trinity in partnership with the Biological Society, and will be performed at the Royal Irish Academy of Music on the 19th November at 7pm, and the 20th. The concept of the play was derived from not only Ms. Eggelton’s personal struggle with anorexia, but also by combining her experience with additional stories of girls who were afflicted with the illness.
The actual idea came about while Jennie Eggleton was a budding actor in Drama school, when she did an in-depth character study of Karen Carpenter, the other half of the American musical duo, The Carpenters, who was also experienced the agony of anorexia. Eggleton was able to relate her personal experiences to Karen’s story, and with the help of her drama tutor, Sonia Fraser, developed a concept of incorporating the life and music of Karen Carpenter into a tale of a young girl, Jennifer, battling anorexia. Eggleton then used this unique notion and created a script that drew parallels between her character on stage, Jennifer’s, and Karen Carpenter’s struggle with anorexia.
Eggleton hopes to use this medium of profound drama to make the topic of anorexia and eating disorders less of a social taboo, and to allow young women to express the reasons behind their anorexia. She also hopes her audiences will identify the common belief of society that over-achievers are the only sufferers of eating disorders as a false conception, and that anyone is vulnerable to this condition. “Close to You” has already succeeded in engaging its previous audiences, with many people who saw the show leaving the performance with a better insight into the minds of those who suffer with anorexia. The production was shown in the well-known Fringe Festival in Edinburgh this summer, where Eggleton experienced once again a positive response from her audience. She hopes to continue to spread the message of dissolving the taboo around eating disorders by performing the play to all girls’ schools in London next year, and will also do a two-week run in a London theatre. “Close to You” addresses difficult issues, but without a doubt is an eye-opening experience for all.
Listen to our post-show panel discussion below, which features Professor James Lucey and Professor Des O’Neil discussing the Mental Health issues raised in the play with the show’s actress Jennie Eggleton and Director Anna Simpson