Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed 21 May 2015
If Charles Laurence’s 1970s comedy, My Fat Friend, was written today, it would have to be retitled something like ‘My Not-Quite-As-Thin-As-They-Should-Be Friend’ in order to be politically correct. Times they are a changing – and that’s part of the problem with this latest Tea Tree Players offering.
To make the story – of an obese bookshop owner whose interest in what she sees as the perfect man makes her determined to lose weight – acceptable by today’s standards certain jokes regarding race and sexuality have had to have the cleansing treatment. This ‘make over’ strips the play of a lot of its humour.
Laurence’s script has a beautiful message that filters through the comedy – be happy with who you are: it’s the inner self that matters in the end. This message seems to be this production’s other big failing. In order to make sure the audience gets the point, Director Damon Hill seems to have concentrated more on the human serious side of the play, letting the humour only creep in now and again.
As ‘gay’ flatmate, Henry, Sam Creighton tries hard to lighten the mood, but isn’t always very successful. His delivery tends to make the majority of his dialogue creepy rather than campily bitchy; and his youngish age works against him with any ‘age’ gags he has. Michael Pomery gives a competent performance as the other flatmate, James, but his supposed Scottish accent let’s him down – he comes across as a Scotsman who’s been to Wales and Ireland, but never Scotland itself. Leighton Vogt, on the other hand, makes what could easily be a vapid character into something quite strong and memorable.
The three huge plusses of this production are: Hill’s fantastically wonderful ‘eye-popping’ set; the beautifully garish 70s costumes; and Michaela Phillips as My Fat Friend.
Phillips is sensational and utterly charming as the title role. Hers is a very natural style of acting, making every minute she is on stage a pleasure to watch. She is the reason that this show should be seen.
On the night reviewed, a regular Tea Tree Players’ patron sitting next to this reviewer summed up this latest production (unfortunately) – “I’ve seen funnier”.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre Cnr Yatala Vale Road & Hancock Road, Surrey Downs
Season: 20 – 30 May 2015
Tickets: $13.00 – $15.00
Bookings: Booking Office at the Theatre is open from 10.00am to 1.00pm every Tuesday and Thursday