Stage Review: Fat Pig
Julia Whitten, Arts Contributor
Fat Pig offers access to every angle of each intimate moment shared between two lovers in our body image obsessed world.
The story opens with a chance encounter between two strangers while eating lunch. Jessica Barry plays Helen, a witty, war-movie fanatic who strikes up a conversation with a shy businessman named Tom (played by Michael McPhee). The odd couple flirt, share laughs and it doesn’t take long for Helen to speak to her physique when she offers Tom a pudding. They joke about our obsession with calories and awkwardly dance around the topic of weight.
Later at Tom’s office, Carter, Tom’s co-worker played by Matthew Lumley, is relentless about finding out more about Helen. Carter is a stereotypical misogynist, routinely objectifying women. Carter’s crude comments don’t cease even when in the company of women, an example of the all too common type of male in this day and age.
Tom and Helen, both in their underwear, address the fact that they spend most of their time in dark movie theatres or cooped up in the bedroom. Helen’s assumptions that Tom is embarrassed by her weight become reality once Tom realizes he can no longer handle the cruel words of his co-workers. Despite his feelings for Helen, Tom cripples under their judgment and ends their relationship. The lights turn on and the audience is left thinking about how our differences are sometimes too much to bare in our cookie cutter world.
Fat Pig is a modern play written by Neil LaBute that depicts the reality of how harsh words and opinions influence our behavior. How far do people stray from their own kind? Tom’s co-worker’s malicious comments represent a cruel aspect of the world. Their comments about Helen’s weight had an effective impact on the audience — bringing about the blunt reality that people are mean. The play was full of comic relief, although at times the jokes made the audience uncomfortable. What saved these moments was the energy shared within the ensemble, putting the audience at ease.
Actress Jessica Barry emphasized the importance of sharing trust with her co-star Michael McPhee while playing the exposed role of Helen. The cast was witty, smart, sexy and, at times, cruel. Fat Pig pushed the audience’s comfort level and ultimately forced them to see a piece of harsh reality.
The play ran for six nights last week as part of the Plutonium Playhouse’s Sex Festival.