Fat Pig premiered at the Off-Broadway MCC Theatre in 2005. Examining notions of conventional beauty, it tells the story of Tom (Webb), who faces the indignation of his friends when he introduces them to his new, super-sized girlfriend Helen (Smith). Can Tom come to terms with his own preconceptions of the importance of stereotypical good looks in the face of such disdain?
Writer/director Neil LaBute was last represented in the West End by Some Girls, which starred Friends’ David Schwimmer in 2005, and a revival of The Shape of Things with Hollywood’s Alicia Witt in 2004. His plays The Mercy Seat, The Distance from Here, Bash and The Shape of Things have all had premiere runs at London’s Almeida Theatre, while This Is How It Goes was seen at the Donmar Warehouse in 2005.
Despite structural flaws, with several overnight critics commenting on Fat Pig’s “dramatic flabbiness”, most acknowledged Neil Labute as a “brilliant” contemporary playwright, whose trademark black humour and "shock tactics" are in abundant evidence here. The comedic skills of the “gifted” cast were widely applauded - “straying” American accents notwithstanding - with comparative newcomer Ella Smith managing to “steal the show” for critics with her “beautiful” yet “frighteningly vulnerable” depiction of the titular ‘fat pig’ Helen.
- by Theo Bosanquet