Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Fat Pig"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Fat Pig"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The first show of the 2006-2007 season at URI Theatre is "Fat Pig" by Neil LaBute. The show is about four young adults in their late 20's to early 30's. The two men and two women struggle with the pull between who they actually are and who they are forced to be by peer pressure and media influence. A man named Tom hits it off with a woman named Helen, who happens to be a touch large. (Tom is the golden boy in his office and excels at his job and with his looks.) This doesn't sit well with two of Tom's co-workers, Carter and Jeannie, who can be sage as well as stupid and almost always nasty. Two questions LaBute asks are: How much has the relentless pursuit of beauty turned us into an uglier species? and Does love need society's blessing to be complete? The show is really a study in weakness, a play about Tom's journey and his male angst. Tom loves this plus size girl but can he rise above himself and can he reconcile his public and private selves? It is an examination of what it means to truly love another person no matter what they look like. To quote Shakespeare, "To Thine own self be true". Director Bryna Wortman takes the audience on this journey with her four talented students and creates a wonderful mixture of comedy and pathos, producing a thought provoking and enjoyable show along the way.

Bryna blocks the show very well and she sets the mood for the show with Frankie Valli's "Too Good to be True" which is played in between the seven scenes of this two act show. The question this poses for the audience is if it is too good to be true can it really be good for you? The four performers answer this question with their wonderful portrayals. Patrick Cullen who plays Tom is in every scene of this play, only leaving stage long enough for costume changes. (His costumes by Renee Berthelette are excellent, fitting a successful businessman to a tee.) He captures this tortured young man perfectly as he wavers back and forth about his love for Helen. Patrick's comic scenes are right on the money but it is the last scene where he delivers a poignant, teary eyed punch to his character that is his best. He does a splendid job in this enormous role. Jessica Koday as Helen is the most likable character in the show. Helen is well grounded and happy with her plus size self. Jessica gives Helen the sparkle and laughing charm the role needs, winning the audience over from start to finish. Josh Short does a wonderful job as Carter, the prick who constantly causes problems for Tom with his relationship with Helen. He has many funny lines and gets many laughs all night long. (The character doesn't like fat people, because his mother was 350 lbs and he called her a fat cow in a supermarket when he was 15.) Amanda Ruggiero as Jeannie is a bitch on wheels. She is a sexy, thin blonde who had a relationship with Tom and is now very angry about Helen. Amanda captures the bitterness of this character and her powerful slap on Tom's face is amazing to behold. So for some topnotch acting, be sure to catch "Fat Pig" at URI and watch these four college kids at work.

"Fat Pig" (12 - 22 October)
URI THEATRE
Studio J, Upper College Road, KINGSTON RI
1 (401)874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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