Despite what the tinsel hangings and silver balloons may have you believe, this is not a celebration. It’s far too honest. Far more nuanced. You cannot summarise the emotions this performance creates, as empowerment and insecurity move parallel and neither is defeated, but in all the confusion, there is a prevailing sense that whatever you feel is valid. Never more so than when Katie Greenall tells us it’s painful for her to speak, to perform and to stop performing.
Greenall’s ability to utilise comedy and games to influence her audience’s mind frame without their awareness is intricate and brilliant. She reverses the cruel social tendency to evaluate one another’s appearance so that we are assessing the potential and cheering on the capability of her stomach rolls to carry objects. She deconstructs our British hesitancy to directly address subjects, by establishing a positively comedic tone.
We are taken through Greenall’s whole life up until this point, and see how comments about her weight have always been prevalent. Her storytelling is formed in such a way that it is tonally anecdotal and never attains a sense of resentment towards her family or friends. Only as the experiences accumulate is the burden of such devaluing shown.
However, this performance is not so one-dimensional as to merely address the social experiences incurred through your size; it also delves into Greenall’s internal conflict. Through the medium of poetry, emotions of fear, self-loathing and guilt are voiced; alongside, and especially poignantly, the cyclical guilt of her insecurities destructive influence upon relationships, love. Greenall’s imagery is sensory and immersive, yet never pretentious, expressive in a manner which conventional performance cannot be, and it stirs within the audience a greater response to the relatability of the universal and empathy for the personal.
Through the creative choice to have voice-over recordings of all the poetry, Greenall constructs a disconnect from the visible, an internal space, which almost makes the listening feel invasive. There is a delicacy to this increased sense of honesty.
Through admitting that she still faces a conflict with regards to her self-esteem, Greenall does not replace the oppressive concept of the perfect body with the equally debilitating aspiration for the perfect mentality-another thing that you can fail at. Where so many performances tackling this topic strive to empower their audience, Greenall instead unifies hers. And despite being undoubtedly labelled as political theatre, she is striving for the day when her confidently walking down the street is not a political action, when she can have her body back.
Fatty Fat Fat is many things; it is a feat of storytelling, an intelligent interlacing of comedy and a beautifully articulate piece of spoken-word.
Fatty Fat Fat was on at The Other Place, London, before continuing its UK tour. For all the upcoming dates head to Katie Greenall’s website.