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IN MY OPINION
"Beauty and the Beast"

Books Read in 2007

Updated 6/27:
"A Place Called the Bla-Bla Cafe"
"Cause of Death"
"Judge and Jury"
"Bloodstream"

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Niagara Falls
Upstate New York
50th Anniversary
J-E-L-L-O
DILO June 2007


That's My Answer

Have you answered
the Question of the Day?

FAT PIG

1 July 2007

It was about a year and a half ago -- December 2005, I believe -- when one of the other reviewers in the area (who also writes for my paper, but reviews for a Sacramento radio station and a Sacramento entertainment paper) convinced me to ask my editor to let me review a show called Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, the other side of the Dickens classic, which was playing at the Capital Stage, a theatre on a paddle wheel hotel-boat in the Sacramento River. 

As it turned out, I was able to review the show and it was, by far, my favorite show of the year.  I was so impressed with the quality of the production in this little tiny theatre that I tried to convince my editor to let me review other shows there.  But we are limited in page space and the rule is that there has to be some connection to Davis to justify doing a review.

I was able to do a couple of other shows, and then realized that every show has a connection to Davis, since the managing director, Peter Mohrmann (who also played Jacob Marley in that first production) was born and raised--and still lives--in Davis.

And so I now routinely review the shows at Capital Stage and the quality of the productions has continued to live up to my initial expectations.

I was particularly hopeful about this season's final show, "Fat Pig," written by Neil LaBute, who also wrote Nurse Betty.  It was billed as a comedy and, having seen Nurse Betty, my assumption was that there would be a lot of black humor, and I was not disappointed.

LaBute's intent, he states somewhere in the notes I received in my reviewer packet, was to force the audience to examine their views about appearance and acceptability.  He also speaks about his own weight issues and how he is still fighting the "fat" battle, having lost a significant amount of weight a few years prior to the writing of this play and then suffering an emotional setback, returning to "stress eating," and having regained all the weight again.

With a name like "Fat Pig," I expected this to be some sort of "triumph of the spirit" kind of thing, where the fat girl gets the boy, the job, the satisfaction, or whatever was going to be the goal for her.

The review I wrote last night was very positive because this is a well directed, beautifully acted play with perhaps a scene or two that dragged a bit because of being too wordy, but bottom line was that it was a very good production.

What I left out of my review was how much I hated it.

Perhaps "hate" is too strong a word.  If LaBute intended for the audience to think, he certainly succeeded with me.

You see, this plays into every negative stereotype of size, from the very bad fat jokes to the ending, where the self-confident, self-accepting fat girl, having taken a big leap of faith and allowed herself to fall in love with the tall, thin, successful businessman gets dumped because he can't handle the derision of his friends.  He's ashamed of her.  He takes her places where he won't be seen with her.  He obviously loves her but societal pressure is ultimately too much.

This play is every fat girl's (and fat boy's) nightmare come true.

There is a detestable friend who makes the "hero's" life miserable with pointed comments and sending xerox copies of the fat girl's photo to everybody in the office ("I thought she looked good blown up like that," he says with a snide smile), after which he gets e-mail about him and his "fat bitch."

The ex-girlfriend can't understand what he sees in "your fat cow."

The detestable friend finally confesses that he "understands."  It turns out that he had a fat mother.  "I'm fifteen and worried about every little thing, and I've got this fucking sumo wrestler in a housecoat trailing around behind me.  That's about as bad as it can get!" "...she just shoveled shit into her mouth all the time, had a few kids and bang, she's up there at 350, maybe more.  It used to seriously piss me off...."

Way to go, LaBute.  Not only make fat people feel like shit in their daily lives, but now set up a guilt trip for what they may have done to embarrass their children 30 years ago.

I can't deny that it's a well acted play, but it really did a number on me.

* * *

We are in Santa Barbara, where we arrived late this afternoon.  We are house sitting for friends prior to Tom's big BBQ tomorrow.  It will be a smaller event because we seem to be the only out of town family here--my mother, Ned & Marta, Norm & Olivia, and Walt's cousin Gerald and his wife Melissa are all unable to make it this year.

I'm in an "interesting" situation computer-wise and it's going to be a challenging few days!  It's also very hot in this house and it has no air conditioning, so if I sound more negative than usual, that may be part of it!

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Walt's mother has now been diagnosed with COPD and is on oxygen 24/7.
She also has to take nebulizer treatments at night (which is what the mask is for).

She was a lifelong smoker and said tonight that she can serve
as an example for younger people for why you shouldn't smoke.

 

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