Fat Blokes @ Traverse Theatre

Director: Scottee

Choreography: Lea Anderson

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

There’s something about being fat isn’t there? Puts a target on you we just accept. So many ugly words leap to mind describing this ‘epidemic’. All redundant here, chances are one of the Fat Blokes onstage has heard it (or worse). Described as a ‘sort of dance’ what you are about to witness is more than dance, more than theatre – but direct in its message.

This isn’t brave, it doesn’t want to be. It’s raw and portrayed plainly in front of us. What Fat Blokes is, is angry. It’s not only an outlet to share stories, but it’s also a call of resistance against media portrayals, public attitudes and cultural scrutiny. Dance is incorporated as a narrative mechanic, but overall it expressive movement is complimented by spoken word.

Fat blokes is sort of just that, some heavy chaps talking about their bodies, our attitudes towards them and the nuances of hatred, acceptance, disgust and curiosity regarding flab. Five men: Scottee, Asad, Joe, Sam and Gez take turns sharing their experiences and struggles with their weight. Some of the men are still struggling, others accepting. Sam’s story, in particular, a stirring emotive highlight to the depravity of repulsive ‘fat fear’.

Scottee reveals that this isn’t the dance show you probably came to see. If anything, it turns out to be more enjoyable than expected. The movement pieces are not the focus – though one, in particular, speaks volumes. The men stood in silence, heads shrouded by their shirts to depict those be-headed shapes rammed onto our screens. Their identities ‘protected’.

There are many who will not agree with their lifestyles, nor their statements. We don’t really care about those people. As made evident – this is not an outlet of middle-class sniggers. Any attempts at such are more than welcome to use the door. Instead, it’s a celebration of who these men are amidst the putrid misogyny which affects them (us) to this day. A masculine nature all in its own, just watch them dance and tell me who the men really are.

Humour is there, but not where you might think. From the moment the audience begins to chuckle at Joe’s striptease they are shot down. Fat Blokes is not a mockery of weight, it is not the prevalent view that so long as we’re laughing with them it’s okay. It handles its comedy carefully aiming it at political, cultural and social jests. Not taking the cheap shots.

Fridges litter backstage, each containing a signifier for each one of the guys, Jen McGinley’s backdrop serves its purpose well. Especially when doubled as a projection screen for Adam Young’s video design. A constant reminder of the piercing words we face day to day.

Scottee tells us that this isn’t really theatre, except that it is. Not in a traditional sense but it’s method, set-up and production aesthetic certainly lend itself to such. It also has a hint of experience about it. Shocking, yet poignant the blokes at one point perform more an experiment than dance. The most telling – and in all honesty relatable moment is to evaluate their worth for the day and decide whether or not to swallow a thin pill.

Enough with being the fat friend. The goofy, rotund sidekick. For too long larger people have played second fiddle to their own story, let alone someone else’s. So, let’s just get things straight – whoever is reading this, you’re sexy. More importantly, you’re a person – regardless of size, sex, gender, ethnicity or musical taste. Fat Blokes wants to remind us of this that no one can take that away from you.

Review originally published for Reviewshub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/fat-blokes-traverse-theatre-edinburgh/

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