THE MOST MASSIVE WOMAN WINS, CollaborAction, at Voltaire. Madeleine George's well-intentioned attempt to take a pile driver to social mores of beauty and fitness in The Most Massive Woman Wins would make Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem proud. In the waiting room of a liposuction clinic--a veritable signifier of the mania surrounding body image--four women create a support network that allows them to eschew outer in favor of inner beauty.
But making a strong statement apparently isn't enough for George; she also tries to cram three decades of ideology into this one-act, a shoe that's several sizes too small. And her characters--a hyperactive teen bulimic, a bored housewife, an indigent single mother, and a prissy corporate woman--are astonishingly flat and one-dimensional. By relying on these rather pedestrian types, she sacrifices the wider range of womanhood. A series of cliched theatrical images and metaphors--like characters playing patty-cake to suggest a flashback to youth--further saps the strength of an otherwise empowering climax.
Director Kimberly Senior's calculated, rigid choreography gives some structure to this convoluted, nonlinear script. But George and Senior both channel too much time and effort into pushing our buttons and tugging our heartstrings. If The Most Massive Woman Wins were half as pedantic, the strength and sincerity of the four performances would have been enough to elicit sympathy for the characters.