A ‘fat’ chance

A ‘fat’ chance

‘Fat Pig’ debuts at the Dayton Theatre Guild

By Brian P. Sharp

Steve Strawser and Wendi Williams star in 'Fat Pig' at the Dayton Theatre Guild. Photo courtesy of Dayton Theatre Guild.

In these days of New Year’s resolutions, weight loss and gym membership advertisements, childhood obesity, no-carb diets and lap-band surgeries, is there weight discrimination? Does this discrimination speak to other biases? Have we become people that simply judge based on too fat, too ethnic, too old or even too gay?
The Dayton Theatre Guild is addressing this issue in its upcoming production of “Fat Pig,” a play by Neil LaBute. When director Fran Pesch saw another one of LaBute’s plays in New York, she had the opportunity to read “Fat Pig” and brought it back to the playreading committee at the Dayton Theatre Guild where it was selected and placed in their season.
This is a show that addresses how society looks at all of us. We are told that to really look good, we have to be skinny. The models in fashion magazines look like twigs – yet the size of the average American woman is a 12. In fact, the beautiful Marilyn Monroe was a size 12. Society would have us believe that the overweight individual is simply addicted and unable to control their urges. This story deals with human weakness and the difficulties people have when dealing with their own weakness … or the difficulty trying to stand up for, live up to or come out for something they believe in.
This play shows us ordinary people with ordinary circumstances and problems. The show has four characters: Tom, the handsome stereotypical man, played by Steve Strawser, who meets and falls in love with his co-worker; Helen, the heavy-set, self confident co-worker, played by Wendi Williams, soon becomes Tom’s love interest; Carter, Tom’s male friend at the office, played by Nicolas Bauer, represents the shallow qualities that Tom is trying to overcome; and Jeannie, another co-worker, played by Amy Askins, used to date Tom, but Tom was never totally committed to the relationship.
Come see the story unfold of the typical professional man, who falls for a plus-sized co- worker named Helen. They meet innocently enough and start talking. Tom is immediately taken by her and her honesty. We also observe Tom’s co-worker and friend Carter becoming interested in the office gossip – is Tom dating someone? Why won’t Tom just tell him? Why does he feel the need to keep it a secret? Is it because of who he is dating? Or is it because of Tom’s inability to deal with his own issues? Then the lies ensue – what happens when Carter figures it out … or does he? Why can’t Tom just stand up to his friend? Then the fodder continues at the water cooler. Carter just can’t wait to find out what is really going on and he can’t wait to involve Jeannie.
Jeannie wants to confront Tom too. She wants to know the truth. Why is he not interested in Jeannie? Would he choose a “fat girl” over her? Is Helen really “his type?” Helen is up front and honest about everything in her life. She wants Tom to be part of her life and she wants to be part of his. Why isn’t he introducing her to his friends? Can this relationship work? Will Tom be man enough to be true to himself and Helen?
This story speaks directly to us personally. What are our issues that we just can’t face?  Can we be true enough to what we want and who we are, to be up front and honest? Are we willing to be resolute in our decisions?  Can we be people of character? Will we always be influenced by society … and will we allow that influence to control us?
Pesch was recently inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame and has directed 11 shows at the Dayton Theatre Guild. She is also the director of FutureFest – the annual festival of new works at the Dayton Playhouse and is consulted as a dialect coach for many area productions.

“Fat Pig” runs Feb. 11– 27 at the Dayton Theatre Guild, located at 430 Wayne Ave. in Dayton. Tickets can be ordered online at www.daytontheatreguild.org or by calling (937) 278-5993. Tickets range in price from $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students.

Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at theatre@daytoncitypaper.com.

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