Hard Bargain Players Fat PigBy Michael Clark • Aug 19th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Hard Bargain Players
Hard Bargain Ampitheatre, Accokeek, MD
Through August 20th
2:00 with one intermission
$10/$8 Students and Seniors
Reviewed August 13th, 2011
Fat Pig is a drama by Neil LaBute. Helen, a very large librarian, and Tom, a regular guy, have started dating, yet Tom feels the need to keep the details of their relationship secret from his coworkers. His coworkers, Carter and Jeannie, are very judgemental and superficial, yet Tom feels his friends’ opinions matter.
Shows performed at the Hard Bargain amphitheater generally do not have a lot of effort put into the set and technical details, and Fat Pig was no different. The basic set of a small desk, shelf, sofa, and tables were functional, allowing the audience to stay focused on the performers. And the performances were fine.
Tessa N. Silvestro as Helen was quite sympathetic, making Helen appear to be a nice, well-rounded, interesting person. Was her joking about her size a self-defense mechanism, or was it her disposition? Watching her describe her large lunch didn’t really make us feel uncomfortable about her size, she accepted it, so we accepted it. Watching Tom (Dav Timmerman) squirm in that first conversation was amusing, and quite reminiscent of a first date, making the entire scene seem possible. Timmerman did make Tom into a likeable fellow, especially as he struggled with what to tell his nosy coworkers, Carter (Jivon Lee Jackson) and Jeannie (Brooke L. Howells).
Both coworkers were obnoxious. Jackson was genuine as he continually told Tom how Tom should be living his life. The crazy thing is that Tom seemed to accept Carter’s advice. Howells as the scorned woman Jeannie was also effective as she shared her anger with Tom’s decision to end their relationship. Carter and Jeannie totally deserved each other.
Timmerman’s struggles with how to define Tom’s relationship with Helen at times though felt odd. Director Mel Gilpin may have made some odd choices which limited the characters. For example, the scene “Old Territory for the New Couple” felt like it was just another date back at Helen’s house watching old movies. But from the text, was something more supposed to have just happened? Was something not presented in that scene? Another example, the final scene, when a decision was reached by Helen and Tom, simply didn’t register as a big deal. Hopefully without giving too much away, the final decision reached by the couple just didn’t feel “right.” It almost felt like it was the right thing to happen for Helen, as she didn’t deserve Tom. But the emotions in that scene fell a bit flat.
Here is something that has always bugged me about this play: problems in the script. Does Tom not have any friends who aren’t coworkers? Get a life man. Let us see how his family reacts to Helen. Just give us more of development of Tom and why he makes the decision he does. Who really cares what the people I work with think about my personal life? Tom says early on something like “HR wouldn’t like me saying that” when he is talking about political correctness of job titles. Then later we discover he was dating a coworker. If the company he works at is large enough to need a full-time expense report paper pusher, and to have an HR department, I’m sure they would also have rules in place about dating those people you work with.
I know I shouldn’t hold problems with the script against a theater company. But, all in all, Hard Bargain’s Fat Pig was respectable for what they had to work with.
- Helen: Tessa N. Silvestro
- Tom: Dav Timmerman
- Carter: Jivon Lee Jackson
- Jeannie: Brooke L. Howells
- Director: Mel Gilpin
- Stage Manager: Heather James
- Properties: Joselle Gilpin
- Sound Design: James D. Watson
- Light Design: April D. Weimer
- Graphics/Photography: Heather Bartlett
- House Managers: Michael Michael Margelos & Quentin Nash Sagers
- Deck Crew: Sean Michael Fraser
Disclaimer: Hard Bargain Players provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7085.