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LaBute's Fat Pig grimly funny
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LaBute's Fat Pig grimly funny

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Fat Pig
Artattack Theater
Through March 20


Many people think that "fat" is the last non-taboo prejudice, the only one still not named in our national or state laws against discrimination. Whether you think it should be or not, Neil LaBute's play Fat Pig, now being staged by Artattack Theater, gets you thinking about your attitudes towards "fat people." Artattack has found a new home on Olive near Broadway, and although it's still a tiny black box space, it's much classier than their last venue. They needed more room, says artistic director Justin Lockwood, and they've moved "on a wing and a prayer." They are one of the small, intense theater groups around here who want to do excellent work and could use all the support they can get.

Fat Pig is the story of middle-America businessman Tom (Martyn Krouse), who can't quite find the right woman until he bumps into Helen (Rachel Permann) at a lunch spot and finds himself captivated. However, Helen is fat. Not super duper fat, not even super fat, just clearly "heavy." Tom assures her that not only does he not mind her size; he's really attracted to her. Yet, when it comes to telling his co-workers and introducing Helen to them, he stalls and wants to "keep it to himself."

It's true that co-worker Carter (Justin Lockwood) is fat-phobic to the nth degree, and Jeannie (Lisa Every) still thinks she has a chance at being Tom's girlfriend. But these people don't quite seem to be important enough to Tom to dictate his choice of relationship. Still, Tom struggles about his ability to own up to the relationship that makes him happy.

The small space is simply dressed with a couch and desk/table area and, as directed by Lockwood, the actors are realistically portrayed. They are anyone in the audience. They are us. Krouse underplays Tom and is riveting as he struggles, out loud, with his awareness of his inadequate responses. His understated, subtle reactions make you want to shout at him to "grow up" or "man up," or something stronger. Permann is warm and heart-touching as the vivacious and self-aware Helen. While Lockwood and Every play unlikable characters, they stay true to their prejudices, giving Tom strong reasons not to introduce Helen.

If this sounds grim, it's grimly funny. LaBute's dialogue is accurate and punchy. No one is a bad guy in this story, but you wish that they all would be better than they are. Maybe you'd like yourself to be better in your own attitudes towards "fat people" - even if you include yourself in that group.

For more information, go to www.artattacktheater.com or www.brownpapertickets.com, or call 800-838-3006.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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