Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Caroline Horton: Mess

By | Published on Wednesday 13 May 2015


We first came across Caroline Horton at the Edinburgh Festival, where she achieved high praise for shows like ‘You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy’ and ‘Mess’; the acclaimed midlands-based playwright and performer heads to Albany Deptford next week for three performances of the latter play, which deals with the thorny subject of anorexia.

I sent a few quick questions over to Caroline, to find out more about ‘Mess’, and what we can expect from her in the future.

CM: Tell us about ‘Mess’ – what is the play about and what themes does it explore?
CH: Mess is a show based on my own experience of anorexia and recovery. Three friends try to put on a very serious and important play about Josephine’s anorexia – and in the process they tie themselves in knots. It’s funny, stupid, sad and hopeful.

CM: What made you want to create a piece that dealt with this topic?
CH: Going back to an old school of mine to speak to the students about what I’d been doing since leaving the school, I mentioned my eating disorder as having been a big part of that period in my life and then was overwhelmed by the numbers of students, staff, parents that wanted to talk about their own experiences of eating disorders. I decided to try to make a piece that opened up conversations around the subject – that somehow tried to make something illogical, terrifying and inaccessible, more approachable.

CM: How much did your own experiences inform the play?
CH: It felt important that it was entirely based on my own experiences – I didn’t want to make a general piece about eating disorders because everyone’s experience of them are so different. The characters and form of the show abstract it from my own life however.

CM: Why did you choose to add songs to the show?
CH: From the start I wanted to work with music – we worked with it from the very beginning. Just instinct I think.

CM: The play premiered to critical acclaim at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Why is it being revived now?
CH: ‘Mess’ was programmed for a big young people’s festival in Edinburgh last week – Imaginate – so it seemed like a good opportunity to do a few more dates. We’re hoping to do a larger tour soon, and hopefully take the production abroad.

CM: You perform and write. Does one take precedence over the other, or do you see yourself doing both forever…?
CH: I don’t know – I also just perform or write with other companies – but I do love the combination of the two.

CM: Are you working on any new plays at at the moment?
CH: Yes – ‘Tranklements’ for the Hoard Festival at the New Vic and a short piece for Latitude and Greenbelt Festivals called ‘For The Little People’ (an off-shoot of ‘Islands’, that I made with The Bush recently).

CM: What next for you?
CH: Other than the two new shows mentioned above, ‘Islands’ is going to Edinburgh at the end of the festival and I’m also performing ‘You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy’ up there too – just for a week. Then I have a new radio play to make for Radio 4 – should keep me off the streets until October I reckon. Then I don’t know!

‘Mess’ is on at The Albany from 19-20 May. See the venue website here for more info and to buy tickets. | |