Large laughs from excellent leads
By Myron My
Everyone tells you it’s what on the inside that counts and what they are looking for in a partner is someone with a great personality. But is that what we really want?
Lab Kelpie’s production of Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig explores this question through character Tom (Lyall Brooks) who falls for Helen (Lulu McClatchy), a fantastic woman – who just happens to be fat.
Brooks and McClatchy are a delight to watch. They spark off one another well and their scenes together bring a lot of laughs. I feel Brooks’ portrayal of the fumbling Tom and his struggle between doing what he wants and dealing with the pressure of what is expected of him highly believable. McClatchy is infectious on stage and it’s a shame that the majority of her character’s scenes are self-deprecating and we don’t have the chance to see Helen really stand up for herself. Patrick Harvey‘s incredibly annoying Carter is played to perfection but I found the character of Jeannie (Cassandra Magrath) was rather too exaggerated.
LaBute’s script has some sharp dialogue and there are hilarious moments created with the line between humour and crass toed well. However, I feel it could have gone further in exploring our obsession with weight (and appearance in general). There’s a scene where Carter suggests “maybe you should turn on the TV someday” but this observation is not developed at all. Perhaps it’s because Fat Pig was originally written almost ten years ago and now feels dated in regards to attitudes or ideas on this topic. Furthermore, the events leading up to the conclusion do not justify or warrant the ending and even negate the earlier actions of the characters.
I was confused by the images on the projector between scenes changes and was not sure what they represented. I’m also not a fan of blackouts: I always find them distracting and on this evening’s performance, with each blackout the audience used it as an opportunity to talk amongst themselves, which I found incredibly frustrating.
Nonetheless, Fat Pig is an enjoyable play with a funny script and some strong performances, but I feel the story itself gets compromised through the very message it is trying to convey.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 20 October | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 6:00pm, Sat 4:00pm
Tickets: $37.50 Full | $30 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000