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ENTERTAINMENT: Love in all shapes and sizes
Queer comedy lovers would no doubt recognise actor and comedian Lulu McLatchy from her role as the deliciously repellent Aunty Cassandra in Rebel Wilson’s pre-fame SBS series Bogan Pride, her own work as canny pop satirist Supergirly or her stint as a presenter on JOY FM.
Through it all, like fellow plus-sized comedians such as Dawn French and Magda Szubanski, McLatchy has been happy to exploit her curvy frame for the sake of a good laugh. Even she will admit to trepidation, though, at being cast as the leading lady in a play with the rather confronting title of Fat Pig.
McLatchy plays Helen, a happily heavy woman who meets the man of her dreams in Tom (Lyall Brooks). Trouble is, Tom soon finds himself bowing to pressure from friends and colleagues who deem his new girlfriend an unsuitable match due to her size.
“When you hear the other scenes of the characters talking about Helen, for me it was very confronting – I thought, shit, do people really think that? Patrick Harvey (former Neighbours star) who plays Tom’s colleague Carter plays it beautifully and even though he’s saying all these horrible things, you laugh – even though you shouldn’t,” McLatchy told the Star Observer.
That’s thanks no doubt to the strength of prolific US playwright Neil LaBute’s script.
“The play is a real rollercoaster of emotions. We’re all laughing one minute, then the next minute we’re all sat there feeling like shit! By the end, Tom’s forced to choose between standing up for the woman he loves or just going with what his friends want him to do.”
Helen herself remains blissfully unaware of much of the vitriol slogged her way by the other characters in the play – McLatchy said it was something of a struggle for her as an actor, having to keep Helen’s sunny disposition intact in the face of so many insults.
“The way they talk about and belittle Helen, it’s the same discrimination as if they were talking about a black person or a gay person. It’s the same bigotry. But Helen’s interesting – she’s just a really lovely person who’s very happy with herself. She meets this guy and she can’t believe her luck, really, because he’s hot and he’s in to her. She doesn’t see any of what’s going behind her back,” she said.
Fat Pig is the debut production from fledgling theatre company Lab Kelpie, who aim to attract new, previously uninterested audiences to the theatre for the first time. McLatchy said she thought the play was just the right entree for first-time theatregoers.
“Patrick and I were talking about this, because we’re both film and TV people – we’re not ‘theatre-theatre’. But I just love the play. It’s easily relatable and a whole lot of fun.”
INFO: Fat Pig, October 10-20, Chapel Off Chapel. chapeloffchapel.com.au