Fat Alice

Acclaimed playwright Alison Carr's latest offering, Fat Alice, opens on a familiar scene. Peter (Richard Conlon) admits to Moira (Meg Fraser), his girlfriend of ten years, that he still hasn’t told his wife about her. Moira thought they were about to move in together, and it’s starting to look like that’s just another promise he’ll break. But then the unfamiliar happens. A large foot forces its way through the ceiling of Moira's flat and from that moment on, the play moves into territory that is all its own.

At first glance, the play seems to centre around a somewhat crude metaphor (the cracks appear in Moira’s flat as the cracks appear in her relationship) but as it progresses it becomes apparent that this metaphor is a smokescreen for another, deeper one.

At first glance, the play seems to centre around a somewhat crude metaphor (the cracks appear in Moira’s flat as the cracks appear in her relationship) but as it progresses it becomes apparent that this metaphor is a smokescreen for another, deeper one. As the presence of the foot makes itself felt more and more, so does what it represents: female body image and identity.

Despite this deep figurative layering, the play has a very light, consistently comic tone, and this is fully utilised by director Joe Douglas. Douglas also directed We Can All Agree to Pretend this Never Happened for A Play, A Pie and a Pint earlier in the season, and his skill at drawing out comic performances from his cast is common to both productions. Humour remains at the forefront of the show, allowing the more serious aspects to slip in under the radar.

Despite very strong performances, characterisation is something of a weak point in the play. Neither characters seems to have much of a reality outside of what they require for this conversation. There are few quirks, no real sense of what it is about these two people that has kept them together for a decade, against the odds. Still, Conlon and Fraser make the most of what they have. Conlon's Peter is just the right balance between self-defensive appeasement and naked self-interest, while Fraser really takes us with her every step of the way through her emotional journey.

In all, this is an unexpectedly complex play which deserves closer scrutiny than its laugh-a-minute dialogue might suggest.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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Performances

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The Blurb

“I’ve given you every little piece of me to keep you happy, fed you every last morsel to keep you interested.”

Moira and Peter have been having an affair for a decade. He’d promised to finally tell his wife today, but then Peter promises a lot of things. Something’s got to give. And it does, when a crack in Moira’s ceiling gives way to something they could never have expected. Tensions rise and the destruction intensifies, threatening to engulf the couple completely. Moira finally starts to question their relationship and what it’s doing to her. When is enough enough?

Alison Carr’s recent theatre credits include: The Soaking Of Vera Shrimp (Winner, Live Theatre/Empty Space Bursary Award); Fat Alice (Traverse Theatre); A Wondrous Place (Northern Spirit, tour); Never Rains But It Pours (LabFest, Theatre503); The Girls From Poppyfield Close, Clint (Live Theatre); Can Cause Death starring Olivier Award-winning actor David Bradley (Forward Theatre Project at the National Theatre, Northern Stage & Latitude Festival)

Alison has also worked with theatres and companies including Paines Plough, nabokov, Old Vic New Voices, Village Pub Theatre and 5065 Lift. Radio credits include Dolly Would (BBC Radio 4) and Yackety Yak (The Verb, BBC Radio 3)