I went to see Fat Pig at The Trafalgar Studios a week ago. Fat Pig is a comedy play by Neil LaBute, starring (when I saw it) Kris Marshall, Robert Webb, Joanna Page and Ella Smith. In fact that’s the entire cast, so they must each be doing OK out of the rather exorbitant ticket price! I understand the run’s been extended but a couple of new cast members will be in place soonish, including Kelly Brook.

The venue’s quite neat, though if you’re at the front you may feel uncomfortably close to the action: being a ‘studio’ there’s no raised stage. If you’re at the back you may struggle with vertigo: the seating comprises a single very steeply raked tier. The cast do their thing, generally two at a time, on the two sided revolving set, which is neatly employed though not nearly as clever as I’ve become used to on the London stage. Maybe a bit more effort could have been put into creative use of lighting to jazz up the set and establish mood more effectively.

It took me a minute to confirm it to myself, but it soon became apparent that the entire cast were putting on American accents. Indeed the whole thing is apparently set in some US metropolis or other – presumably New York or LA. But it could quite easily have been UKified with no loss of plot or character cohesion, and that would have removed the nagging distraction that bugged me throughout. It’s a shame that this is what I remember most about the play!

The other things that stick most boldly in the mind are a mix of good and bad. The cast are very good, though I’d stop short of saying excellent. Kris Marshall gets the most comicly promising character and fills it out flamboyantly, as does Joanna Page in the other ‘support’ role. There are a fair few laughs to be had, but not as many or as deep as the flyers would have you believe. The two main protagonists are lumbered with carrying the plot however, and seem to spend most of their time delivering endless small talk and lovers’ ramblings – which would be fine if it was full of sparkling comedy dialogue. But it wasn’t. The end was particularly disappointing, as the play simply runs out of steam after another tortuously long heart to heart devoid of laughs. The audience weren’t even sure whether it had ended or not.

It’s easy to pick fault, and I’ll freely admit I’ve not seen much non-musical theatre recently. Maybe I’ve been spoiled with the cavalcade of hilarity and slick production that was Spamalot and Avenue Q. Maybe I’m a philistine. Maybe Fat Pig was just so so and only managing to elevate itself by virtue of a good cast and some decent marketing. I’ll give it one thing – it tickled my brain buds and left me thinking about it even a week later.

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