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.”
The play is not helped by an amateurish set in which the two main areas of activity, Tom’s office and Helen’s bedroom, are set too wide. And the odd little stickers on a back wall used for projected titles just look babyish. But that’s really not the problem.
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.