Dominion Stage Fat PigBy Laura & Mike Clark • Oct 18th, 2008 • Category: Reviews
Gunston Theatre One, Arlington, VA
$17/$15 Seniors and Students
Through November 2nd
Fat Pig is a play by Neil LaBute. In Fat Pig, a fit, good-looking guy falls hard for a very overweight girl. The attendant fuss among his judgmental friends and her sleeker rivals, not only strains the bonds of love, but also our notion of how wide a net we can cast for the person of our dreams.
Dominion Stage began it’s 2008-2009 season with a show that will make you laugh, then turn inward to do some personal soul searching, and generate discussion with your significant other. Fat Pig did not feel like a nearly two hour long show. The performers hit a wide range of characteristics, such as balancing awkwardness and casualness. The light and sound effects were well timed and did not distract from the acting.
Erin Decaprio played the role of Helen, the “big boned woman” as Tom so awkwardly put it. Decaprio had a great sense of humor that allowed her character to come across as strong and thick skinned. However, as you got to know Helen, you realized that she was wanting to be accepted for herself, no matter what her size. The closing scene though allowed for Decaprio to express her fear of losing Tom, and maybe a bit of desperation. There was a sense that she was willing to change herself for Tom, but it could be argued that she was using Tom as the excuse to change herself.
Tom was played by Chris Holbert. Tom was a decent guy at heart, although his character is shallow in the face of opposition from his “friends.” Holbert came across as sincere, and pained at the insults thrown at Helen. His times with Helen when they were alone together were fun and the two seemed comfortable together. However that relationship changed when he had to interact with his coworkers and friends. Tom’s character needed to grow up. For example, the scene with Helen at the restaurant allowed Holbrook to explore Tom’s feelings for Helen. You could definitely feel the first date vibes as the two made small talk, but then the change that happened to Tom later in the scene left us disappointed.
The most honest, albeit least likable, character was Carter played by Chuck Dluhy. Dluhy was quite at ease on stage. Despite Carter’s obnoxious attitude, he was the one character who shared a personal story. Dluhy gave Carter a sharp edge, which was able to cut through Tom’s defenses. Carter was hiding from himself.
Tom’s former girlfriend and coworker was Jeannie, played convincingly by Allyson Harkey. Jeannie wanted to give the relationship another try. Tom did not, but instead of coming out and saying it’s over, he kind of wimped out and just did not call her. Finally she got the message. Harkey brought an anger to the character that was played out in her exasperation toward Tom and her annoyance towards Carter. Carter and Jeannie ended up getting together and made a perfect match, as their immaturity complemented one another. Jeannie seemed to be hiding from her hurt over Tom and used anger to deal with that hurt.
It was unbelievable that in this litigious day and age that coworkers would be able to date one another. Tom, Jeannie and Carter’s company was described as a large organization, which should have had systems in place to minimize the harassment that was occurring by Carter (in distributing photos of Helen by email to the entire company), and also would have had policies in place prohibiting dating coworkers. Beyond that aspect of LaBute’s script, the director, Sara Joy Lebowitz, kept the actors focused on exploring the dynamics of their evolving relationships.
Kevin King‘s set for Fat Pig was simple, with raised platforms creating different scenes, and the primary scene being Tom’s office. Stage dividers were used twice to offset the fast food dining area and the beach from the office. The Sound Designer, Ben Allen, showed an attention to detail, such as the crashing waves of the beach or the crowded fast food restaurant.
Fat Pig ran one hour and forty-five minutes without an intermission. It is playing through Sunday November 2, Friday and Saturdays at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2 PM at the Gunston Theatre One in Alexandria, Virginia. Please be aware that this show does contain strong language and adult situations.
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And now, on with the show.
Very rare is the dude who stands up for the sh*t he believes in.”
Sad, but true… When I first discovered this script, more than two and a half years ago, I became focused on the weight issue. Forget how heavy Helen is written, what woman out there hasn’t lamented about her weight?
But as I began working on the script, picking it apart, diving into the characters and having discussions with people, Carter’s line began to resonate. It stayed with me. And I began to see that there was more here than the size of one woman.
Peer pressure never truly goes away. As a middle school drama teacher, I watch my 12 and 13 year-old students deal with it every day, but this play is making me realize how much it’s still a part of my own life. How often do we bend to the pressure of others? Because it’s “easier to go along sometimes…and not make, like, some big tsunami” over everything.
I hope that Fat Pig becomes for you what it is for me, a weight upon your shoulders — if you’ll forgive the pun. I hope you leave tonight thinking about those moments when you haven’t been happy with yourself because of something that you have the power to change — whether we’re talking about weight, or standing up for your beliefs — and the next time you have the chance, you’ll make a different choice.
As Helen says, “Don’t be afraid of what people may think — because this could be so great.” Because “this” could be anything.
Director’s Notes are Copyright 2008 Sara Joy Lebowitz for Dominon Stage, Reprinted with permission.
- Tom: Chris Holbert
- Helen: Erin Decaprio
- Carter: Chuck Dluhy
- Jeannie: Allyson Harkey
- Producer: Alexis Rose
- Director: Sara Joy Lebowitz
- Stage Manager: Alexis Rose
- Assistant Stage Manager: Larissa Norris
- Set Design: Kevin King
- Set Painting Design: Hector Lorenzini
- Master Carpenter: Christie Swaney
- Assistant Master Carpenter: Morgan Sexton
- Lighting Designer: Nick Brown
- Sound Design: Ben Allen
- Set Dressing: Ken Clayton
- Costume Design: Jamie Erdman
- Properties: Jamie Erdman
- Set Construction Crew: Hector Lorenzini
- Set Painting Crew: Jared Davis, Dave Moretti, Sara Stevens
- Run Crew: Sara Stevens
- Auditions: Celeste Campbell, Matthew randall, Brian Turley
- Box Office: William Parker
- Photography: Allen Lebowitz
- Program Design: Laura Sendek
- Marketing/Logo Design: Dave Moretti
- Front of House: The Dominion Board
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/2558.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.