Monday, August 10, 2009

REVIEW: Banyan’s “Fat Pig” hearty entertainment

I’ve been looking forward to the Banyan Theater Company’s season closer "Fat Pig," ever since I heard about it a few months ago. In true Banyan style, this show has the ability to quickly draw audiences in, take them on an entertaining, albeit emotional journey and then conclude with a dramatic end.

"Fat Pig," written by Neil LaBute, is a story you would likely see on those popular teen TV shows nowadays, but LaBute makes it more sophisticated by centering it on a corporate lifestyle. It caters well to a mature crowd.

The play centers on Helen (Margot Moreland) and Tom (Sam Osheroff), who meet in a cafeteria and hit it off after a few awkward exchanges. When they meet, Helen automatically thinks Tom — a handsome, fit and successful businessman — is making snide remarks about her weight, but she couldn’t be farther from the truth. Herein lies the heart of the story. Helen is a plus-sized gal who’s used to being treated badly and even makes fun of herself for it. But Tom seems accept her for who she is.

That is until his corporate buddies, which include a very jealous female friend, find out.
Helen, a librarian, hopes she’s found a lasting relationship, but Tom struggles to maintain his new relationship while keeping up appearances at work.

Don’t let the show’s odd title fool you, the fat pig isn’t who you think it is.

The play, directed by Greg Leaming, is presented on a simple, clean contemporary set. As for the actors, they all shined in their own ways.

Moreland gives an impressive and lifelike performance (this is her second time performing this show), veiling her insecurities through LaBute’s witty sarcasm. But she also has her serious moments. Osheroff was in good form on stage for most of the show, too. Yet, there were a couple of times his performance seemed just a tad stiff when it called for him to be purely emotional or vulnerable. He and Moreland had good chemistry on stage, though. He carried a different kind of chemistry that was just as powerful with the catty Jeannie (Bethany Weise), a co-worker and ex-lover. Weise does a wonderful job being the woman to hate in this show as her spiteful and domineering character lashes out at Tom. You know the saying about a woman scorned — she definitely fits the bill.

Lastly, there’s Carter (Dane Dandridge Clark), Tom’s friend and obnoxious co-worker. Carter is a window of truth at times, but other times he likes to create and be entertained by controversy. He believes handsome men should stick to dating equally attractive counterparts. As Carter, Clark brings a heaping amount of comic relief to "Fat Pig," though his performance was slightly over the top at times. While enjoyable in the role, Clark isn’t believable as a womanizer. Yet, he brings out Carter’s other attributes effortlessly.

"Fat Pig" deals with a touchy subject for many women, but the Banyan production does a great job presenting the issue with this entertaining show. In between the laughs, it really makes you think about the shallow social standards we often view other people through.

-January Holmes

1 comment:

Carole said...

this is the only time I have ever seen a serious play with a plus size woman as the romantic lead. It reinforces the pervasive prejudice against people who don't fit our cultural definition of attractive.