Does this play make me look fat?
EATFest Spring 2008 (Series A: The Food Monologues)
Written by Kerri Kochanski
Directed by Deb Guston
Produced by Emerging Artists Theatre (www.eatheatre.org)
Roy Arias Theatre Center,
Equity showcase (closed
Review by Byrne Harrison
Many women have issues with food and body image. While this may not seem like much of a revelation to anyone who has ever watched talk shows, read newspapers and magazines, or looked in the mirror and not liked what they’ve seen, few playwrights seem willing to tackle an entire evening of this topic.
Breaking from their traditional format of presenting four or five short plays each night of the EATFest, Emerging Artists kicks off this year’s production with Kerri Kochanski’s The Food Monologues, a play made up of short scenes dealing with various problems women face when dealing with food, self image, and men. At a fairly brisk sixty minutes, The Food Monologues avoids feeling like an after-school special, or worse, a particularly earnest episode of Dr. Phil, though several of the scenes cover well-worn ground without adding anything new. In addition, Kochanski sometimes covers the same topic in multiple scenes. While this can work if each of the scenes brings something new to the topic, when they are too similar, they seem like overkill. Two scenes in particular, a young woman dealing with a food fetishist and another who resents being thought of as fat because she is pregnant, lose some of their power when the same issues are covered in other similar scenes.
When the scenes do cover something new or do it in a new way, it can be wonderful. In particular, “I Eat Because” (which is made up of several scenes throughout the play) and “I Don’t Feel Good” are good examples of this. Part confessional, part accusation, with lines tossed like a hot potato from actress to actress, these multi-character scenes feature some of the best moments of the play. In terms of monologues, four in particular stand out. Two of them, “Found” and “Bones,” were particularly effective stand-alone scenes. “Found” features Janelle M. Lannan as Suzanne, a young woman in the middle of a binge, trying to figure out her relationship with food and with her husband. The second, “Bones,” deals with a girl (Laine Buntrock) who got so thin that her hip bones and ribs were visible and now has to deal with food that her father is making her eat, food like bread and milkshakes, things that, in her words, stick. While both Lannan and Buntrock do a good job with their monologues, Lannan is particularly adept at showing both the humor and horror of her bingeing.
The other two scenes that were particularly strong were “Mastodon” and “Visions,” the two scenes that bookcase The Food Monologues. The scenes feature Frieda (Andrea Alton), a woman both fascinated and repulsed by a heavy woman, a Mastodon in her mind, and Rebecca (Randi Sobol), the larger woman who feels that people only see her as calories, sugar, and fat, and that their own fear and hatred of food leads them to a fear and hatred of her. These scenes are fascinating in that they turn the audience's expectation of each character's self-image neatly on its head.
Although director Deb Guston occasionally allows the pace to drag, especially between scenes, The Food Monologues delivers some surprising insights and some excellent performances. With a run time of under an hour, this play can fit anyone's schedule.
(EATFest Series A: The Food Monologues also features Rhonda Ayers,
Copyright 2008 by Byrne Harrison
Return to Volume Fourteen, Number Three Index
Return to Volume Fourteen Index
Return to Home Page