The Clapham Fringe is a reliable source of thought-provoking material, and this year’s festival marks the first work from the Overload Theatre Company entitled Just Eat.

Just Eat opens with a display of food, and a musical introduction by the very talented Lorra. The work starts with light-hearted comedy slapstick but just at the point when the performance might be expected to descend into a custard-pie style food fight, it veers sharply into much darker territory and begins to explore each company member’s own personal food fights.

The use of a multimedia approach gives the work the feel of a social media feed bought to life, with all its fake jollity and apparent glamour revealing stories of bullying, shaming and doubtful consent. Amy and Lillie’s stories on both sides of the Atlantic reveal depressingly similar adolescent experiences. For the audience, it becomes increasingly hard to laugh even when prompted to do so.
The bravery of the company – particularly Callum’s tale of teenage obsession and Millie’s generous heart being subjected to transactional modern dating – is to be congratulated, as each member dramatizes intensely personal stories in front of an audience containing friends and family, dragging sources of shame into the spotlight.

The piece could be developed further around why adolescence becomes such a toxic crucible for so many. But overall the material has a sharp intelligence, and it will be interesting to see this new theatre company develop.

Clapham Fringe Festival at the Bread and Roses Theatre, SW4, to 13 October 2019.