Fat Blokes – Project Arts Centre – Review
Home, Southbank Centre and Scottee & Friends present – Fat Blokes – Dates: 14 Feb – 16 Feb
Fat Blokes is a theatre production exploring how your body size and shape affects the way you see the world around you. The piece opens with a man dancing centre stage. He does not have the typical body shape you would expect from a dancer and it brings a few giggles from the unsuspecting audience. At this point, the routine is brought to an abrupt end as Scottee, the leader of this group, grabs a microphone and talks directly to the audience asking them some difficult questions. What is it about this man that is funny? Why are we laughing? This production is a self-confessed protest march. The fat rebellion starts here!
Scottee is an English artist who works in theatre, fine art and installation. The piece came into existence when Scottee put out an advert asking for ‘fat blokes’ to contact him in relation to a performance piece he was working on. The production takes the form of a series of dance routines which are interwoven with monologues from the performers.
There are four men with Scottee on stage and they all have a chance to share their experiences. They are from different backgrounds but all have struggled due to their size. The world does not easily accept an obese man and they tell stories of being bullied in school and struggling to fit in. The stories can be quite harrowing, including one of a violent and unprovoked assault. One talked of being on a diet, despite being part of a show about a fat rebellion! The one thing that united the performers was an acceptance of their bodies and this production is an attempt to confront the norms of conventional beauty within society.
The dance pieces were quite intricate. Some involved all five performers and were heavily choreographed. Others were solo pieces and were very physically demanding. Despite the fact that the performers have no formal training in dance, they moved perfectly in time with the rock and indie soundtrack.
The piece was well observed and gives many interesting insights into how society deals with obesity. There was talk of the many headless shots used on TV when discussing the issue, an army of decapitated men displayed without their permission. Other points in relation to class and diet were also fascinating. Many of the healthier foods are more expensive and therefore people who are struggling financially choose the cheaper and faster alternatives. Despite the initial bravado, the production does not continue with its aggressive viewpoint. The monologues are quite touching, with one man coming to tears when talking about his relationship with his father. The performers are not theatre professionals but men from all walks of life who have a story to tell, they just happen to be a little bigger than average! It’s up to society to change and this production throws down the gauntlet.
Performed by Scottee, Asad Uliah, Joe Spencer, Sam Buttery and Gez Mez.