Fat Pig

 Controversial, but undeniably enjoyable. Over the top, but brutally honest. Fat Pig is an engaging insight into the sad reality of humanity’s obsession with appearance. 

Queensland Theatre CompanyBille Brown Studio, West End, Brisbane Friday, 4 June, 2010
Fat PigControversial, but undeniably enjoyable. Over the top, but brutally honest. Fat Pig is an engaging insight into the sad reality of humanity’s obsession with appearance. Morgan Dowsett devised a winning formula for a brilliant show. Modern design and imaginative style grabbed the audience’s attention. Biting and developed characters with thought-provoking attitudes got the audience emotionally involved. But it wasn’t the great script and creative direction alone that made this show what it was. Four “next best” actors equally excelled in their roles, sparking laughter and shocking their audience.  Helen, played by Amy Ingram, is an over-weight emotional eater and unlucky in love – that is until she meets Tom, played by Christopher Sommers. Tom quickly falls for Helen’s loud and charming nature, much to the disapproval of his co-workers; the shallow Jeannie and the roguish Carter. A few dates down the track and Tom finds himself questioning if his love for Helen is more valuable than the opinion of others that he can “really do better” than a “fat pig”. Neil LaBute’s confronting script and characters never beat around the bush and it was a refreshing experience to hear people say what they really think, not caring for the consequences. Ingram was stunningly revealing as the brash yet soft-hearted Helen. Her vulnerability and insecurity did not ask for sympathy, but instead understanding. I first saw Ingram in the recent Metro Arts show Single Admissions, and praised her for her quirky and confident performance. She shined even brighter in this production, bringing a genuine depth and spirit to Helen.  Sommers was exceptional. Tom was a weak and hesitant young man who lied to himself that it was only natural to fall for Helen, but deep down knew he was surprised. His indecisiveness about his own values was painful to watch but a spot-on reflection of how many people behave. It was a constant battle for Tom between being the man he wanted to be and caving in to the shallow opinion of his peers. The other interesting thing about this play is that while Jeannie and Carter are portrayed as small-minded and superficial, there is some truth to what they say. While Helen was a loving individual with many admirable qualities, she was accountable for her weight problem. I found myself disapproving of the judgement Jeannie and Carter laid on her, but also critical of her self-inflicted obesity.   Steven Rooke, best known for his award-winning role in 23rd productions’ The Pillowman, outraged the audience as Carter; the 15-year-old boy trapped in a late 20-something man’s body. He was grotesque, annoying and offensive, but also captivating and hilarious. He had all the great lines that called things for what they were, and no-one could condemn him for that. Paige Gardiner was equally enjoyable as spoilt brat Jeannie, who struggled to come to terms with the fact that her fling, Tom, had chosen a “fat beast” over her. She was intimidating, frank and one of those gorgeous characters you can love and hate at the same time. The four brilliant performances took the show to dizzying heights. Set changes made by the cast were innovative and choreographed to be precise movements. This was highly effective and didn’t break the story. It was largely more suitable than blackouts because it was time-efficient and complemented the fast-pace of the show. Sound design by Tony Brumpton was sharp, modern and attention-grabbing. It added real flavour to the over-all creative atmosphere. Ian Rendell was responsible for the screen images that set the mood setting and helped drive the pace for the story. At 110 minutes with no interval, the show was very well timed and there was no watch checking.I’ve already recommended all my closest friends to see this show, so despite being heavily booked, keep checking; you never know what spots might free up. 
Bookings at www.qldtheatreco.com.au  Fat Pig is showing until the 26th of June

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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