Reviewed – 3rd March 2020
“clearly has heartfelt intentions, but the execution is hugely disappointing”
Big sends Fat Girl (Erin Gill) on a journey of body confidence after her overbearing mother (Vaani K Sharma) signs her up for a reality show in which an ‘ugly’ contestant is paired up with Hot Boy (Ewan Pollitt), in an attempt to break up her ravenous relationship with Pizza (Geraint Rhys). The conceit of personifying the food Fat Girl finds comforts in seems like a quirky idea at first, but Big soon reveals itself to be a painfully generic and ineffective rehash of every coming of age story you’ve even seen.
Written by Urvashi Bohra, the script doesn’t take time to let story and character developments properly establish themselves or settle, with each scene taking the plot from A to B in a perfunctory but unengaging manner. The script feels unsupported by director Georgia Leanne Harris’ vacuous black box design which only exacerbates the issue of how bland the show feels. The performances are a mixed bag too – while Sharma and Pollitt commit well to their roles, Gill’s portrayal came across as very unenthusiastic, dropping the energy and momentum of the play. This is a stark contrast with Rhys who appears to have wandered in from a nearby panto, as his cartoonish facial expressions made for a deeply jarring experience considering he was mostly acting alongside Gill.
The clear reason for the cartoonishness, though, is that Rhys’ role is entirely mute, which begs the question – why bother personifying someone’s relationship with food in the first place if you’re not going to let them speak? Unfortunately, this feeling of ideas being half-baked and confused permeates throughout the show – the reality programme within Big supposedly always has cameras rolling, although it’s never mentioned until a plot contrivance requires it towards the end. And the entire message around body positivity, as well as feeling totally unearned, also comes across as disingenuous when the character has been defined by the writing exclusively by her weight, with Bohra forgoing a name and settling simply for ‘Fat Girl’.
Big clearly has heartfelt intentions, but the execution is hugely disappointing.
Reviewed by Ethan Doyle