Fat! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Fat! Factory Theater. Usually the variety format is a recipe for the most disastrous kind of inconsistency. But luckily the sharp cast of Fat!--a hodgepodge of short gag scenes, longer sketches, and monologues sandwiched between musical numbers--attack the script with remarkable ferocity. Even the most strained moments in this revue are rendered humorous by good-natured mugging and strong comic presences.

Factory ensemble member Michele Suffredin's treatment of the traumas and triumphs of being fat is uneven, vacillating between stark realism and cock-and-bull tomfoolery. Sure, an imitation of Heart's Ann Wilson choking on a plastic T-bone provides a second or two of sadistic pleasure, but ultimately it undermines some thought-provoking bits that don't rely on instant gratification. Fat! fares much better when it doesn't pander to its audience, as in its resoundingly honest monologues and shrewd portrayals of adolescent trials.

Overall Suffredin's semiautobiographical work is at odds with itself. Unable to choose between highbrow and lowbrow comedy, she embraces both, never fully committing to either. Fat! earns some points for tempering the bitter pill of its issues with a good measure of comedy, but the high camp and overblown goofiness only weigh down an otherwise intelligent and funny show.

--Nick Green

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