Fat Pig by Ft. Wayne native Neil LaBute, now playing at the Phoenix Theatre, is the kind of show that creates more questions than it answers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the show becomes a talking point for further discussion and anecdotal stories of one’s own.
The play is about a man, Tom, who falls in love with an over-weight woman, Helen, and how he, his ex and his friend deal with it.
The show jumps right into the weight issue, as it opens with Tom (Douglas Johnson) meeting Helen (Julie Dixon) at a cafeteria. Helen has an aggressive personality, and brings up her weight issue right away, through self-deprecating comments that she passes off as jokes. While she claims her weight is “not a shame thing for me anymore,” she constantly brings the issue up in a way that is telling: She is just as obsessed with it as Tom’s friend Carter (Marc Szewczyk), who is almost misogynistic in his obsession with women’s body fat. But while Carter’s rant about fat women is almost clinical — and rather funny, granted, in a politically incorrect way — it is Tom’s skinny ex, Jeannie (Angela Plank), who has the emotional outburst that labels Helen a sow. Tom is left in the middle, hopelessly torn between his affection for Helen and society’s hatred of fat.
While Johnson is good throughout in his role as conflicted male, it is actually Szewczyk as the jackass Carter who steals scenes — even between scenes as a pseudo-cool prop mover. Dixon is fine, creating a character who lives life with a brave face, making fun of herself before other people can, but Plank comes off as rather stiff, even when throwing a tempter tantrum.
May 26, the theater will hold a post-play discussion after the night’s performance led by Dr. Baca, a licensed clinical social worker who has taught courses in cross-cultural issues in marriage and family therapy and abnormal psychology.
Fat Pig, directed by Dale McFadden, continues through June 10. Tickets are $25. For reservations, call the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave., at 317-635-PLAY."