No, ‘Slightly Fat’ is not an ironically named weight-loss group; it’s an ensemble of seven multi-talented performers who boast an infinite list of skills including; music, juggling, unicycle-ing, speed painting, and most importantly, being funny. Now forget any preconceptions you had about the phrase ‘Variety Show’; as this show at the Roundhouse is hilariously unconventional and totally unpredictable. It attracts one of the most diverse audiences I have ever seen.
A great part of the humour of the show is derived from the unpredictability, and the tendency for individual pieces to run into each other; the impulsive interaction between the cast create a buzz of excitement amongst the audience members. Matt Barnard, sitting by the drums, growls witty, sarcastic remarks at the other performers, and gets into a noisy huff at being told he’s only good for “hitting stuff”. The merriment is only topped by the astounding trickery – juggling pins, balls, umbrellas and knives across the stage in solo and collaborative routines.
The speed painting act has the audience almost hypnotised for a good few minutes. Watching someone skilfully flick paint across a large canvass, is strangely therapeutic, even if you have no idea exactly what he is painting until the very last stroke of the brush. The audiences’ collective head tilt and synchronised gasp of realisation served to add further comedy.
Slightly Fat is not only good at making the audience laugh but also making them gasp in horror and sympathetic pain as 21 umbrellas are stabbed through a small cardboard box which Rich, the illusionist, has crammed himself into.
This trick, as well as the others, is accompanied by live music, providing the show with a perfect backdrop. And we cannot talk about the music without mentioning the special musical number, on the subject of a father’s career advice. No prizes for guessing that this father did not recommend variety performance as a wise career choice! Luckily, the cast of Slightly Fat followed their hearts, and seem to be having exciting and successful careers because of it.
It is such a lively and dynamic show that no amount of description could really do it justice. You do have to see it to believe it. Other fun and impressive acts include the ‘Tiger Training’, the remixed version of ‘The Cup and Ball’ routine, the Houdini-style escape jacket trick and many more. Also, the audience interaction and the cast’s tendency to pull people onto the stage is a very nice touch; awkward for the victim, but truly amusing to watch.
Slightly Fat Features is the perfectly light-hearted day/evening out, with imaginative stunts and a real feeling that these are performers who love what they do, and really care about the audience’s experience. Children and adults can both really enjoy this one; there is something in it for everyone.