I went to see Neil La Bute’s play “Fat Pig” last night. It was a Reader’s Theater production. Set and acting were limited, but I liked the intensity of the focus on dialogue. Certainly the script couldn’t hide behind pageantry of costume or set. The acting was actually wonderful. A great deal of intent can be projected by the face and gaze, as well as a few well placed entrances and exits of characters.
The play centers around three co-workers in some kind of business firm, and a woman met at a cafeteria, the
The play is a dark comedy. Disturbing comedy might be a better, as all laughter generated is misogynistic.
The story line simplified:
Tom a young, fit professional man meets a heavy set woman at a cafeteria at lunch. It is crowded and they end up sharing a table. Helen is a self confident larger than life librarian. Helen is larger than life because she is outgoing, friendly and funny. Confident in ways, most of us aren’t. Carter is Tom’s annoying friend and coworker. The smart mouthed slacker who seems to spend most of his time in other folks offices wasting their time as well as his. Jeannie is Tom’s off again, on again girlfriend and coworker who Tom does not have the balls to make a clean break from. Jeannie is the butt of much of the misogynist humor as her hurt feelings due to Tom’s wimpy behavior leave her in a constant state of flux.
Tom falls for Helen. He finds her humor and honesty refreshing, and her body is not a turn off, but he doesn’t have the “courage” to be honest about his relationship to his friends.
Really? We’re not in Junior High anymore. Are you telling me that supposedly adult men can’t date women they find attractive because their friends – who they know to be idiots – won’t approve? I can understand that it might take courage to stand up against Mommy and Daddy, but jeeze, put on your man pants and grow up!
Which begs the question – is this the last frontier where we can safely deride people? I mean – would they, could they, produce a play “Black Pig”, or “Crippled Pig”? Would the dare title a play about religiously different lovers “J** Pig”? No, I don’t think so either.
I wonder also, is this really the kind of thing that goes on in the adult world? As a portly woman, the character of Helen encourages me to stand tall and be myself, but the success of this play means that people are finding resonance in it. apparently dating a fat chick is worse than finding you’ve tracked dog dirt in off the sidewalk.
In this production the casting may have led to the unbelievability of the play. The actress who played Jane was drop dead gorgeous with a smile that lit up the room. Most men would meet this woman and dream of diving in like a kid in a pillow filled room, and if they suffocated, they would die happy. This was a plus sized woman, but one with curves in all the right places, and a stellar personality.
Tom is surprised when Helen tells him that people, strangers, taunt her to her face, about her size.
And they do. In real life, that happens, like, you can go see a whole play about it.
As much as I’m ranting here I think the play has real value and the production I saw was great. It is the kind of play that should open many conversations, if there are forums for it to do so. I’m not sure that it will have much impact on behaviors if discussion is limited to the water cooler. The Carters of the world will wax crudely eloquent, and the Tom’s of the world won’t have the cajones to stand up to them.