Theater & Performing Arts

Fat Pig

When: Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m., Thursdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m., Tuesdays, 7 p.m. and Thu., Dec. 3, 8 p.m. Continues through Nov. 24 2009

Fat-phobia may be a real and palpable thing, but it doesn’t have to be — well, heavy. Not according to director Barbara Damashek, whose interpretation of the new Neil LaBute drama, Fat Pig, includes a string of winking references (i.e.e.g., use of Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls” in the play’s climax). It’s a vicious, funny, and shrewd exploration of body consciousness and shame. The twist here is that women’s bodies aren’t necessarily the centerpiece of the play. Rather, they serve as a repository for male characters to fling their insecurities. Enter Tom (Jud Williford), the good-looking, eager-to-please office worker who falls for a smart, pretty fat girl named Helen (Liliane Klein), whose name is a not-so-veiled allusion to another famous Helen. They enter into a closet relationship, but ultimately get found out by Tom’s co-worker Carter (played with sadistic glee by Peter Ruocco) and former love interest Jeannie (Alexandra Creighton). Thus begins a snarly morality tale, in which Tom tries — and ultimately fails — to reconcile his affection for Helen with his desire to fit into a male social order. Everything in the play symbolizes something else, from the characters’ names to the basketball court drawn on the floor , toand Helen’s compulsive eating (which seems to be more about filling an emotional void than physical hunger). It’s an appetizing production. Through Dec. 6 at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley).

Rachel Swan

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