Tears of rage I cannot fight
I'd be the last to help you understand
Are you strong enough to be my man?
Nothing's true and nothing's right
So let me be alone tonight
Cause you can't change the way I am
Are you strong enough to be my man?
'Strong Enough' - Sheryl Crow
An odd way to begin a review I know, but after seeing 'Fat Pig' last night, a play written by Neil LaBute, this song by Sheryl Crow whirled in my mind, alongside a sense of gratitude that I have indeed found a partner who is 'strong enough'.
Superb writing, and four excellent actors made this nearly two hour play an absolute delight to watch. This is not to say that I enjoyed the last fifteen minutes of it personally, but I'm glad I went, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who has ever been in a relationship where their partner was embarrassed by something about them, or anyone who has been fed the line: "It's not you, it's me... I don't deserve you." *vomit*
The main story of the play is the relationship between Helen (Katrina Milosevic), who's fat, and Tom (James Saunders), who is crap in all the ways that so many men seem to be - insecure, driven by peer pressure, paralysed by the gap between PC responses and what they really think, and basically unworthy of breathing the same air as a strong, sexy, vibrant woman. You know, you've all met him before - he's a 'snag' and lots of the time, he makes you want to gun him down.
But he's also endearing in that puppyish sort of way; and you get the impression (from his rhetoric, if not his actions) that he wants to change, that he wants to be the kind of man he can be proud of being. Or alternatively as Jeannie (Felicity Price) says, he just wants to be breast fed. I couldn't decide which was more pertinent.
During the course of the play, each character had a monologue at some point, and they all were well delivered and entertaining, but the one the blew me away (and the rest of the audience too, as it was the only performance that received mid-play applause) was Jeannie. She bemoans that 'sorry' doesn't make you feel better after some idiot dumps you, and questions whether being dumped for a fat chick makes him a chubby chaser, and her therefore fat, and she wonders if Tom represents the sum total of men out there. What's more, she is not afraid to get up on a table and stamp her feet and scream that if that's the case, then the world sucks.
There was also an 'office jerk' character Carter, played by Ed Wightman, who took the role of the Shakespearean fool in the sense that at times he spouted great philosophical ideas - like that if Tom really loved Helen, he would not listen to a word anyone says - then he would proceed to bely everything by advising him to dump her. He also got a rockin' drunk office-worker kareoke number.
I was compelled at times to lift my hands in the shape of a gun and blow away the male protagonist... and I noticed that one of my fellow attendees used an invisible pump action shot gun in a similar fashion. When he said he was just going to float for a while, and see if he could keep his head above water, I may have also muttered: 'Shark' so that those around me could hear.
And it did make me nauseous when Helen said she'd have gastric banding surgery to make herself more acceptable for him. But I guess it is reflective of the times. Surprisingly though, I walked out with a smile on my face. It was a wry smile, but a smile none the less.
Bravo Nick LaBute for talking about issues that need to be spoken of, and sometimes for ripping the sarcastic remarks straight out of my mouth! And a huge thank you to the super sexy Katrina Milosevic for being strong enough to dredge up the pain of rejection on stage, so we all felt it from the inside. You go girl!
Go see the play!
Fat Pig - at the Wharf Theatre