Los Angeles Theater Review: FAT PIG (Hudson)

by Eve Meadows on May 12, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles

A PIG WITH WINGS

Variety critic Daniel Kimmel identified a thread running through Neil LaBute’s work: “He is a misanthrope who assumes that only callous people who use and abuse others can survive.” Fat Pig, now receiving a satisfying production at the Hudson under Alexis Jacknow’s fine direction, is so true to what people really think that it could not be called “callous,” only honest and incredibly revealing.

Jonathan Bray and Deidra Edwards in Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG at the Hudson Theater.

This marvelous play, which features new material never before seen in Los Angeles, astutely reflects on America’s fixation on beauty and success and what most people will sacrifice in order to “fit in.” LaBute’s style is language-oriented, terse, rhythmic, and colloquial, bearing a similarity to one of his favorite playwrights, David Mamet. He displays clear insights into gender relations, political correctness, and the masculine search for identity. The playwright himself calls his 2004 work a “study in weakness—particularly the weakness of this man (Tom) who falls in love with someone, and then doesn’t have the backbone, the spine to live up to those convictions.”

Kirsten Kollender and Jonathan Bray in Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG at the Hudson Theater.

In Act I, Tom (Jonathan Bray) appears to be a slightly better than average, up-and-coming businessman vaguely dissatisfied with a rather empty life and a string of superficial relationships. Basically placid and ordinary, there is nothing very exciting about him, except passable good looks. Upon meeting Helen (Deidra Edwards), his emotional life deepens; he is awakened to new longings for intimacy and communication not based simply on the superficial. Eventually, he comes to see his true character and the limits of his courage to claim his own happiness.

Deidra Edwards and Jonathan Bray in Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG at the Hudson Theater.

Mr. Bray imperceptibly, but inevitably, takes this journey displaying artistic excellence. Ms. Edwards performs with warmth, confidence, and humor, lacking only adequate articulation, running all her sentences together so that I missed some of what she said, particularly in the first act. As Tom’s friend, Carter, Nick Stabile is quick, funny, delightful, and mercurial. Kristen Kollender plays Jeannie, the financial account secretary of the firm at which Tom works. Her passage from suspicion to needling to outrage to hatred and then finally back to acceptance and friendship is a performance to be relished.

Nick Stabile, Kirsten Kollender, and Jonathan Bray in Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG at the Hudson Theater.

photos by Ed Krieger

Jonathan Bray and Deidra Edwards in Neil LaBute’s FAT PIG at the Hudson Theater

Fat Pig
D&ME Productions, LLC
Hudson Mainstage Theater
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
scheduled to end on June 1, 2014
for tickets, call (323) 960-7788 or visit www.plays411.com/fatpig

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