Review: Fatty Fat Fat, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

Fatty Fat Fat is an incredibly brave show that jumps between hilarious mocking games, snippets of storytelling and deeply poignant statements. Katie Greenall’s one-woman play fits perfectly in at Fringe as a vehicle to push boundaries and make people hear the truths they don’t want to hear. She’s included eloquent spoken word poetry and clever food related metaphors that are all effortlessly poetic. The language used throughout is expressive and delightfully pictorial –  Greenall is ticking all the boxes to form an excellent show. 

It starts with Greenall energetically dancing the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ in an offhand manner. She then describes events from her life that stand out dramatically in her mind. From being nine years old and dressing up as the fat controller from Thomas The Tank Engine, to nineteen in a club and being the bargaining chip for a bet amongst a group of boys. What’s clear is that she and many others are suffering through horrific situations everyday for the way they are.  Greenall tugs at our heartstrings as we gasp from the prejudice she has had to face. Then, after these deeply powerful moments, she soothes our feelings of rage an injustice with comical games. These hilarious activities have a dark undertone regarding our society’s problem with fat acceptance, and it is strangely moving to watch.

My favourite game is her version of ‘Never Have I Ever’ in which the audience is given crisps to eat instead of drinks. It starts off comically as a group game, everyone stuffing their face as the statement is “Never have I ever been scared I’ll get trapped in an item of clothing in a changing room”. But as the audience slow down in eating their crisps, Greenall gets quicker and more frantic at shovelling the crisps into her mouth. The statements now say “never have I ever been offered money to lose weight” and “never have I ever been called a fat bitch” and Greenall is chewing down the crisps with a tired look of pain on her face. This holds such heartbreak and the statements we’re hearing are astoundingly harsh. It’s a true rollercoaster of a show.

Each section is paired perfectly with a classic pop tune playing in the background. They divinely set the mood of the scene and it’s a satisfying touch to the deeply intricate show. She has joined this show together brilliantly.

Greenall herself is instantly loveable and charismatic. It’s delightfully refreshing to see a person being 100% themselves, and she is incredibly authentic on stage. She explains the bravery required every day to perform this show, as it reveals such inner secrets that most people would hate to tell their best friend – let alone an audience of fifty Fringe-goers. She isn’t naïve and honestly explains her own privilege as a white, British, cisgendered women, and imagines how much worse her situation would be with added discrimination. It ends invigoratingly political, as she declares the changes she wants to see in our society. Greenall is a highly credible actor and has created an original and exciting show about her life.

Fatty Fat Fat is an illuminating piece of new writing, and a must-see. I hope that with controversial shows like this we can all gain “freedom from the clutches of systemic fatphobia”.

Fatty Fat Fat is playing at Pleasance Courtyard until 26 August. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.