Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fat Pig

For the past 4 years Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig (7 short acts, 84 pages) has sat on my bookcase in a total of five apartments/ houses/ residences. For some reason, or another, I have always glanced over it and never got around to actually picking it up and reading it; that all changed this month.

It is such a shame that I never read this play before! The dialogue is fast paced and witty no matter which characters are conversing. LaBute doesn’t aim to make any major statements but gives us a glimpse at a real situation that could be happening to anyone around us and shows us how it stands. The play gives us an account of the courtship between Tom and Helen (a woman on the heavier side of the scales) from their initial meeting to the demise of their relationship. It also gives a perfect representation of the struggles people face if they decide to fall in love with people outside of the norm (even if they seem to be the perfect match).

Remember back when I read Maurice and the main character explained himself as ‘an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort’? Well a very similar famous figure is used in this book as an representation of being homosexual, “I don’t want to come off like some Elton John here, but you’re a good-looking guy” (LaBute 70). Kind of funny how these famed individuals can sum up a life choice without any detailed context. Be it Oscar Wilde, or Elton John, we know exactly what these characters mean when they use them to describe a particular part of themselves.

LaBute also gives us a very good look into a small issue of our internet-centric generation; the problem of some individuals not being able to deal with issues directly;

Carter I know. The guy who first thought up the whole “I hope we can still be friends” thing must be giggling his dick off somewhere…

Tom Probably. (Beat.) You think maybe I should go down there and talk to her? Just…

Carter Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. Meet her on her turf… with all those accounting chicks around. Perfect.

Tom I don’t want her all mad, though. Maybe just an e-mail…

Carter Yeah, with one of those smiley-face icons or something. Come on, be serious! (50)

I think the above short interaction between those two characters really does show us what is fundamentally wrong with many of the people walking around nowadays- the inability to communicate.

Although it is a very short play, the length of Fat Pig is one of the reasons it succeeds, at least to me, so well. It gives us a situation, lets it play out a bit, then ends on a sad note (the two main characters are actually crying as the ‘curtain’ goes down). There is no moral in this story. There is no happy ending. It simply is what it is. It is really nice to get a snippet of another life with no real context and just enjoy the ride.

The edition I read was ISBN: 978-0-571-21150-0.

LaBute, Neil. Fat Pig. New York: Faber and Faber, 2005. Print.

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