Heartwarming and heartrending at the same time, Katie & Pip explores the relationship between a 15-year-old girl living with type-1 diabetes and Pip, the 5-year-old dog she trained to alert her when her blood sugar reaches dangerous levels in her sleep.
The show focuses on a medical emergency Katie experienced while on holiday with her family in Scotland as much as the experiences of living with diabetes, from the disorienting thirst of high blood sugar to the repetitive medical conversations in doctor’s offices. Lighting, costume and props all work to demonstrate these extreme highs and lows, as well as the weirdness of an initial diagnosis. Spoken words echo and cascade through various realities and scenarios common to diabetes, immersing the audience in Katie’s emotional landscape.
At other times, the show was playful, with Pip taking centre stage and Katie throwing balls for him; she, just a girl, Pip, just a dog. Between scenes the audience is given time to dwell in the moment. This encourages reflection and is necessary to fully unpack the rich tableaux orchestrated by the Tin Can People theatre company.
One of the most poignant aspects of the show is the confusion of identity, with each performer manifesting elements of Katie’s experience, often referring to her with plural pronouns. When they meditate on her future, it becomes clear that this conflation is part of Katie’s experience: she thinks of her life in terms of what she and Pip will do. There is no singular ‘I’ when Pip is so integral to every part of her journey.
Diabetes is an invisible disability. Despite its affect on many aspects of a diabetic’s life, you cannot tell from looking at them that they are not able-normative. This is what makes Katie & Pip so powerful: the way that it conveys difficult realities to perceive in abstract, accessible performances.
Katie & Pip, Summerhall, 8-12 Aug, 1.20pm
Photo: Garry Cook