We wanted to like 12 Miles West’s first fall production, “Fat Pig” by Neil LaBute, more than we did. And we don’t know whether our disappointment stems from the acting, the writing, or perhaps — most intriguingly — a flaw within in ourself.
The action of “Fat Pig” can be described like this. Boy meets girl. Boy gets teased about girl. Boy dumps girl. The girl is fat. The pathos is produced by the fact that while the characters Tom (Marc Donovan) and Helen (Amanda Jornov) are really in love, Tom’s not man enough to show his love out in public.
The problem is that we can see Tom’s discomfort more than we can see why he is in love. Helen’s main personality trait is making brittle self-deprecating jokes about her weight and then — when Tom squirms — saying “just kidding.”
Is that enough basis for a chemistry? Not for us. We suspect that Neil LaBute simply didn’t write enough charm for the character of Helen. But we fear that perhaps we’re as shallow as Tom, or worse, his callous and annoying office-mate Carter (Vincent Sagona). Maybe we don’t detect the chemistry between Tom and Helen because we too are uncomfortable with the idea of a fat girlfriend.
Maybe it’s just not all that enjoyable to watch Marc Donovan squirm for an hour and a half straight. (The play is performed without an intermission.) Or maybe the play is working just fine, and we’re doing exactly what LaBute had in mind. We’re squirming right along with the main character.
“Fat Pig” continues on Thursday through Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons, through October 15. Tickets can be purchased online.