Moving and funny, Maria Ferguson’s one-woman show,
An interesting, fun and sometimes enlightening way to spend an hour.
When Ferguson was little she wanted to perform – to sing, dance and act on stage. Every day after school her parents would take her to dance class, her favourite place. But as she got older, her weight increasingly stood as an impediment to her progress. In Ferguson’s debut show, she explores the experiences in her life that led her to an eating disorder, her relationship with food before and since, and how it manifests itself in behaviours of control and repetition. While this might all sound a little weighty, and it was at times, the performance was expertly crafted to stay light and humorous while tackling these big issues, for which Ferguson deserves a great deal of credit. She tells her story with spoken-word, dance, music and physical theatre, each element blending beautifully to create a symphony of sounds and movement that captures all the senses. We even get taste and smell thrown in when she hands crisps and biscuits around the audience. Ferguson is a charismatic performer, and this charisma turns to humour, which is a much needed relief during such hard-hitting material.
Despite Ferguson’s strength as a performer and her innate charm that makes you want to root for her success, there is something missing. The story is hard to follow, jumping around and relying on you to remember a little action, or a sentence said a half-hour ago. It wasn’t until a day later that I really realised what half the show was about, and it wasn’t a ‘wow, so clever’ realisation, more of a ‘ah, I wish that had been better explained’ realisation. Also, there is nothing particularly fresh about this story, I feel like I’ve read it hundred times online, seen it in a hundred fringe shows, bought a hundred books on the subject. With such a well-travelled road, a new perspective is critical to making the piece stand out. While it was by no means hackneyed, and Ferguson did a good job incorporating a few new storytelling ideas, the piece lacked originality overall.
Fat Girls Don’t Dance is an interesting, fun and sometimes enlightening way to spend an hour. Maria Ferguson is incredibly watchable, and the show is thought-provoking without bashing you over the head with big ideas.