note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey
SpeakEasy Stage doesn’t shy away from provocative material. Witness their crackerjack production of Neil Labute’s controversial FAT PIG (playing through April 7). The production values at SpeakEasy may be enormous but the script itself is mighty thin. Here’s one female’s opinion of the play, the title of which, of course, refers to a woman. “Fat” can be positive in the masculine. A “fat” cat, for instance, is a successful player. But Labute is aiming right at the feminist solar plexus.
Labute could have written his play as a cautionary tale for us body conscious Americans. Fat chance. All he trots out on stage are unpleasant stereotypes. He could have tried to separate the stereotype from the reality (and at first I thought he had) but the attractive librarian we meet in the first scene soon succumbs to the playwright’s notion of the insatiable glutton who gobbles hot dogs like there was no tomorrow. Labute makes her so desperate for affection that she is willing to be stapled and mutilated just to keep a man.
Thanks partly to super (size) model Esme, and the newly liberated ex-Victoria’s Secret model Tyra Banks, we’re rejecting those destructive images. In other words, I don’t buy what Labute is selling but I have no beef with the production. Paul Melone has directed a first rate cast, with bad guys you can sink your teeth into and good guys you can despair about.
Michael Daniel Anderson is so electrifyingly evil that sparks fly out of his fingertips. Laura Latrielle, too, lights up the stage with her “woman scorned” routine. They have so much energy slinking about and causing mayhem that you forget that Liliene Klein and James Ryen are carrying the weight of the show, so to speak. Ryen has the thankless task of being their primary victim, a man torn between what he feels and what society dictates. Liliane Klein plays Ryen’s insecure girlfriend so well, it’s painful to see her act out Labute’s notion of women as clinging vines. The play feels like it’s missing a scene---and an ending, to boot. I was hungry for more. We’re left not knowing what happens to the couple. I’m tempted to say Mr. Labute has bitten off more than he can chew. But that’s just my undernourished opinion.