Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Case Study No. 0042: Helen

Vintage Theatre "Fat Pig" Take Two Oct. 17 - Nov 1
Vintage Theatre presents
Fat Pig
Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by Linda Suttle

A heart wrenching romantic comedy about love, image and the choices we all make.
Oct. 17 Nov. 1
Thurs/Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m. & Sun at 6:30 p.m.
Special Matinee Performance Sat. Oct 31st at 2:30 (no evening performance that date)
Aurora Fox Studio Theatre
9900 E Colfax Ave in Aurora.
Tickets are $24
303-739-1970 or online at

The cast includes Mari Geasair as Helen, Andy Anderson as Tom, James OHagan-Murphy as Carter and Janelle Christie as Jeannie.
Tags: Vintage Theatre Fat Pig Take 2
Added: 2 years ago
From: FullCourtPR
Views: 992

Vintage Theatre
"Fat Pig"
Oct. 17 - Nov. 1
at the Aurora Fox

[scene opens with Helen sitting in a restaurant eating, when Tom walks by carrying a tray]
TOM: [looks around] Pretty big ...
HELEN: [stops eating] Excuse me?
TOM: Oh, I'm sorry. I was just sort of, y'know, speaking out loud ... Pretty big in here, that's what I was saying.
HELEN: Oh right, sorry.
TOM: Lots of room for, y'know, people.
HELEN: Yes, it's popular ... [offers the seat next to her] You can eat here if you want.
TOM: Oh no, I don't mean to, uh ...
HELEN: What?
TOM: I dunno. Guess I hadn't thought that one through. Uh, intrude, I guess.
HELEN: You're not, I'll make some room for you.
TOM: Are you sure?
HELEN: Of course.


[Tom and Helen are eating together]
HELEN: I thought you meant me before.
TOM: I'm sorry?
HELEN: When you said that ... "Pretty big." I thought you were talking to me about me.
TOM: Oh no. God no, I wouldn't ... You did?
HELEN: For a second.
TOM: No, that'd be ... y'know, rude.
HELEN: [laughs] Still!
TOM: I mean, why would I do that? A thing like that, I don't know--
HELEN: You'd be surprised, people say all kinds of things here.
TOM: What, in this place?
HELEN: [laughs] Not here in this restaurant or anything. I mean this city.
TOM: So, people actually ... what? Say things to your face?
HELEN: Of course, all the time.
TOM: About what?
HELEN: [gives him a look] My hair color, what do you think?


HELEN: I had two pieces of pizza, and the garlic bread, and a salad ... plus dessert.
TOM: Well hey, y'know. It's your, uh ...
HELEN: How does that sentence end?
TOM: Badly, I'm sure.
HELEN: [laughs]
TOM: No, it's your body, you do what you want. That's what I think.
HELEN: Really?
TOM: Of course, I mean, y'know ...


HELEN: Whatever you look like, you should just, y'know, go with it!
TOM: That's right, I agree ... [points to a bag filled with movies next to her] That is a lotta videos.
HELEN: It was a long weekend.
TOM: Right ... So lemmee guess. "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," I'm thinking.
HELEN: Wrong ... Take a look.
TOM: Ah.
[he picks up the bag and looks through it]
TOM: [surprised] "The Guns of Navarone," "Where Eagles Dare" ... "Ice Station Zebra"?
HELEN: I drew myself a little Alistair MacLean festival!
TOM: Wow ... I mean, don't get me wrong. I love that stuff, but it's not very girly.
HELEN: [leans in] You're probably just dating the wrong kinds of girls.
TOM: Ah, no doubt about that ...


HELEN: [laughs]
TOM: You have a terrific laugh.
HELEN: Thanks ...
TOM: You're welcome ... A potty mouth, but a really cute laugh. [laughs]
HELEN: Thanks, now that I'm so self-conscious, I will never do it again!
TOM: Exactly!
HELEN: How's that spinach coming along there?
TOM: Mm, so darn good!
HELEN: Oh, I bet ...
TOM: Yeah, yummy!
HELEN: The pizza's terrific here! I come by for it all the time ...
TOM: I'll bet!
HELEN: [gives him a look]
TOM: [embarrassed] I just mean, y'know ... I-If it's so good, I would understand that.
[he looks down, as Helen smiles]
TOM: [quietly] Please help me.
HELEN: I get what you meant.
TOM: Great.
HELEN: Y'know, you shouldn't be so nervous ... I mean, if we're gonna start dating.
TOM: [looks stunned]

Full Court Press
Denver, CO



Starring Mari Geasair as Helen the Overweight Librarian

When audiences squirm, when forced laughter flies around the theatre just a little too loudly, it means one thing: a theatre grabbed hold of a Neil LaBute play and dug unashamedly, without trepidation, into the content, meaning, and characterizations.

Under the outstanding direction of Linda Suttle, Vintage Theatre has done exactly that with Fat Pig. LaBute known for his ability to create characters that unabashedly live right up front where it counts most, out in the open, ideologies that many people think, but don't have the courage to say out loud. Laws are created to protect "those" who are different from discrimination and verbal abuse. Unfortunately, hate crimes continue to exist. There are no laws against "sneerful" expressions or twitching eye rolling. LaBute doesn't pussy foot around with his prime purpose of Fat Pig, and the exquisite cast meets him eyeball to eyeball, letting the chips fall where they may.

Among the many thrills wrapping themselves around the shoulders of theatre critics, one of my greatest is watching an actor grow from an OK actor into a knock-out-take-the-breath-away artist.

Mari Geasair returned from Seattle specifically to play Helen with the courage and forthright to let Helen engulf her. Geasair stepped aside and said, "Helen, take this body. It's all yours." The result is a symphony in poetry.

Helen has always been overweight. Although as a child and young woman, she struggled over the concept. Her mother referred to her as big boned. Now as a professional woman, she's learned to live with herself. She knows all the jokes saying them often before anyone else has the opportunity. Her eyes dance, her beautiful face shines with a light. She's a Librarian who has ridden through the varied different name changes hoping to upgrade the Librarian's image. She's intelligent. She reads vociferously. She knows a Librarian is still a librarian no matter what the title. Her weekends are spent reading helping her take her mind off the truth no one will be calling to ask her out. What she wants is companionship; someone who will love her, someone who will be honest, and someone who will appreciate her just for who she is.

Upon first meeting Helen, as soon as the house lights dim and the stage lights burn, she's standing at a small table in a popular lunch cafeteria. The tall tables clarifies the establishment wants their patrons to eat and run.

Reading while eating, she frequently looks around, eyes bright, expressive, with a tinge of hopefulness. Along comes a serious minded white-collar gentleman, balancing a tray looking for a place to eat. With a pleasant smile, she offers to share her table. Tom replies "pretty big". Helen's expression changes instantly with a "what?" He, referring to the place, she thinking he meant her. No, certainly people don't make comments like that. Yes, all the time. Her sense of humor takes over transforming the uptight businessman into a relaxed-having- a-great-time-human-being. Her humor, her laugh, her engaging countenance, grabs him by the heartstrings. Yes, he really does want to see her again. The comedic word play at this initial meeting laps across the stage with charming funniness.

Andy Anderson wraps himself into Tom, and he's grand. Of course, her size doesn't bother him. Of course, he wants to see her again, and Friday night for dinner will be just perfect, and yes, most definitely, he will be honest with her. Honesty means more to Helen than anything else in the world. She's had enough empty "pretensed" words.

There is no question that when Tom tells Helen he will be honest with her, he means it.

Much is said and written about peer pressure grabbing at teenagers, but little is said about adult peer pressure, which is just as strong, just as manipulating, and just as destructive as it is for some teens. Tom runs smack into it at the office.

There's Carter, an enthusiastic, self indulgent, will do anything to keep from working, nosey, busy body, practical joker who works just down the hall from Tom. Carter wants to know everything, and he wants to know it right now. They play on the same basketball team on Friday nights. Tom's going to be late. Carter feeds him with a thousand questions. Punching, pushing obnoxiously at Tom. James O'Hagan Murphy is spectacular bouncing in Carter's shoes. He's annoyingly irritating. From the audience there's the wanting to punch his lights out.

Carter isn't the only one Tom has to contend with. There's Jeannie. Forward, bright, gorgeous, self absorbed, and persistent, she doesn't hint, she demands. They dated for a while, and then the dating stopped without explanation, and she wants to know why. Janelle Christie is brilliant as the over eager, smart alec overbearing, calculating fuss budget Jeannie. Even though one is so involved in the proceedings, there's a wanting to growl at her right out loud.

Tom has a problem. He has already broken his promise to Helen. He can't bring himself to tell ether Carter or Jeannie about the plus sized woman he has fallen head over heels for. They would want to meet her, see a picture of her, and hear all about her. What could he possibly say, and how could he possibly say it? The ridiculed teasing he knows will follow is more than his psyche can stand.

At their Friday night dinner, Carter tracks down Tom. Tom lied, and told him he would be meeting with a group from Chicago, but there is no group. There's only one plus sized woman sitting at the table with Tom. The scenario doesn't go unnoticed by Helen. It doesntt take long for her to read between the lines and understand what's going on. Helen's disappointment breaks the heart of everyone in the audience as her bright smile fades, and her eyes dim. Tom's obvious discomfort tingles the spine.

They continue seeing each other, but how come not out in public? When is she going to meet his friends? What's going on with Tom?

Carter and Jeannie dig themselves deeper into Tom's world. Truth unravels and Tom's confidence turns toward humiliation. Anderson allows one to see inside the "turmoiled" Tom.

At the Fourth of July play day at the Beach for Tom's company, he takes her, but makes sure they stay far away from the rest of the crowd. The haunting truth unravels between Tom and Helen. The one element Helen wants more than anything else is denied her once again.

At one point, seriousness takes hold of Carter, in Tom's office. He remembers the difficulty he had growing up with a very heavy mother. His father spent a great deal of time away from the home, and Carter remembers being embarrassed when he had to be out in public with her. Ah, at least Carter has the wherewithal to clue Tom in on where his prankster hurtful teasing originates.

The bright confident smile of Helen fades to heartbreak tears. When he confesses even though he loves her, even though he enjoys being with her, he doesn't have the "moxied" courage to live up to his promise.

Fat Pig moves beyond overweight people, getting so much attention in the media for the high percentage of obesity in the United States, but goes eyeball to eyeball with anyone different, and the unfair treatment given to them. When you think about it, most people surround themselves with friends who think and act and do as they do, go where they go, like what they like. For some, it is highly uncomfortable to be with people who think differently, dress differently, and act differently. Somewhere along the line LaBute smacks us all up the side of the face.

The actors execute the characterizations brilliantly with rhythmic choreographed timing.

Suttle thrilled to direct Fat Pig, strongly feeling this play needed a female director knew it also needed a man's perspective. She brought on Jeremy Make as Assistant Director. Make played Tom in the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's stunning production of Fat Pig a couple of years ago at Boulder's Dairy Center. He walked in Tom's shoes, lived with the sting of Carter and Jeannie, caving into broken humiliation.

The combination of Suttle, Make, and the four awesome actors is mind blowing.

Charles Packard designed the remarkable set that works perfectly for the Studio Theatre's small stage. Jen Orf's lighting design is unforgettable, dressed in pink before the show begins, changing to stark white light as LaBute digs, and multi colors as needed.

Before the show, against the background of large balls, a slide show distorts elongated pictures of anorexic models. It is so weird how our society describes beautiful and unbeautiful, isn't it? In between scenes slides symbolically punctuate what is going on, featuring wording that baffled the tech personnel. Words wrap themselves around the balls making them impossible to read. They're working on it, but if truth were known, it matters not. The distortion of the words fit grandly into the distortion of the models, and the distortion of Carter and Jeannie's perception, and yes, we can't leave out Tom. As much as he wants to be honest and straightforward, feeding his love for Helen with courage and pride, and honor, he can't.

Fat Pig is a definite-do-not-miss-no-matter-what production. It speaks, and I guarantee everyone within shouting distance will listen.



Man: So where do you work?
Woman: The library?
Man:Oh, you're a librarian
Woman: Yeah, well we don't really use that term anymore, but
Man: Sure, I know, it's probably like a printed word specialist or something now I suppose
Woman: Exactly:Theyre always coming up with these new names for stuff, something to make the person feel
better, like refuse technician,
Man: That's so true
Woman: Right. The problem is you still find yourself picking shit up off the street no matter what they call
you you know
Man: You have a terrific laugh
Woman: Thanks.
Man: Your welcome. A potty mouth , but a really cute laugh.
Woman: That's sweet, thank you. Now that I am so self-concious that I'll never do it again
Man: Exactly.
Woman: Although, I mean, if we're gonna start dating ….
Man: What?
Woman: I'm kidding.
Man: Oh, right. Got it. Little slow.
Woman: I'm sorry. You should have seen your face…..
Man: What. No.
Woman: I thought you were going to choke
Man: That's not true, come on.
Woman: Pretty close.
Man: No, that's not ...why would you say that? You just caught me off guard is all. Seriously.
Woman: Anyway, I was just playing. Big people are jolly, remember.
Man: Ummmmmm-hmmmmmmm

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