A Slight Ache

In a world where ‘fat’ is a dirty word, Chewing the Fat, created by performance artist Selina Thompson, sets out to have an open and honest conversation about it. Specifically, Thompson wants to share the story of her fat, how it makes her feel and how it has impacted on her life. She’s not quite into body positivity, not completely taken by feminism; she’s influenced by beauty conventions, but rejects them as well. In Chewing the Fat, Thompson charts an empowering path all of her own.

Thompson has a genuine charm and likability, which immediately puts the audience on her side.

Thompson has a genuine charm and likability, which immediately puts the audience on her side. She greets us in an outfit of tiny balloons, which she pops as she lists all the things she is not: ‘I am not a liquid, so am not spilling out of my clothes and, likewise, have not been poured into this top.’ She tells us what this show is not: it is not about eating disorders, body positivity, how men feel about their bodies; it does not aim to tell others how to feel about their bodies. Female bodies and body image is a fraught topic, which has been discussed ad nauseum and Thompson is aware of all that goes before her.

What makes this production stand out from every other discussion of bodies, fat, and body image is Thompson’s confronting and disarming honesty about her body and her conflicting feelings regarding it. She charts her struggle between what seem two impossible extremes: getting rid of her fat, or learning to love it. As she tells her story, she plays with a lot of food. This is a messy topic and Thompson makes a mess whilst exploring it. The images of Thompson with her various foods are by turn hilarious, strange, beautiful and extremely disturbing.

A lot of action occurred on the floor and, unfortunately, despite the rake of the audience, it was often difficult to see what was going on from my 3rd row seat. Overall, however, this is a very well put together show. Thompson may not come to any definite conclusions regarding her body and her fat, but the questions she asks and the way she asks them are thought-provoking and challenging.

Reviews by Jenny Williams

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The Blurb

A bucolic psycho-drama by Harold Pinter. Starring Thom Tuck (The Penny Dreadfuls, Coalition) ‘Fruity, befuddled and increasingly melancholy’ (Guardian), Catriona Knox (The Boom Jennies) ‘She's as good as Joyce Grenfell’ (Spectator) and Simon Munnery (League Against Tedium, Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, Fylm Makker). Pause. Originally written for the radio in 1959, A Slight Ache is an underperformed Pinter classic - a study in marital stagnation and bristling surrealism. When Flora and Edward's life is invaded by a mysterious and taciturn vagrant, their marriage and sanity never quite recover.