|Neil LaBute's Fat Pig|
AN AWARD-winning comedy that takes a politically incorrect look at our obsession with appearance is the Old Mill Theatre’s first season of 2017.
Written by Neil LaBute and directed by Les Hart, Fat Pig focuses on a good-looking young man who becomes involved with a plus-sized librarian.
When Tom falls in love with Helen, he is ecstatic – but is conflicted when his work colleague is highly insulting about the relationship due to Helen’s weight and appearance.
The play follows Tom and Helen’s journey through a poignant and eye-opening production that hits on the topics of outside influences on decision-making and the human tendency to choose beauty over substance.
Winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play, LaBute was inspired to write Fat Pig after an experiment with dieting – as his weight decreased so did his focus on writing.
Hart said the play will challenge audiences about some of their prejudices.
“In this case, the focus is on size but it could just as effectively tackle sexuality, religion or colour,” he said. “Of course, the title would need to be changed for those.
“But it really is about moving past that first impression and getting to know the individual. The world could do with less intolerance.
“I’m hoping this play makes people assess their own thinking.”
Involved in theatre since the early 1970s, Hart cut his teeth with the Kwinana Theatre Workshop at age 12 before moving to Newman and starting the Newman Amateur Theatrical Society in 1983.
He resurrected the Port Hedland Playhouse in 1995 after another move and returned to Perth two years later, directing shows for the Old Mill Theatre and Playlovers.
Fat Pig is the first show Hart has directed in a decade, after living overseas for the past nine years.
“The first challenge was the casting – how do you request a person that is plus-sized and comfortable enough with themselves be referred to by the title?” he said.
“The other is keeping the balance so the show doesn’t get too heavy with the audience feeling like they’re being lectured. There needs to be the lighter moments.”
The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).