Perfect’ review

Columnist: show was ‘powerful,’ ‘moving’

By ANGELA MAURONI

Contributing Writer

[email protected]

 

AUTUMN VOGEL/THE CAMPUS Rachel DuChateau, ‘16, Alicia Foster, ‘16, Tori Durst, ‘15, and Christine McGrath, ‘17, play the four main characters of the Student Experimental Theater piece “The Most Massive Women Wins,” and pose on Arter Theater’s stage during the dress rehersal on Oct. 3, 2013. Performances were held on Oct. 4 and 5.
AUTUMN VOGEL/THE CAMPUS
Rachel DuChateau, ‘16, Alicia Foster, ‘16, Tori Durst, ‘15, and Christine McGrath, ‘17, play the four main characters of the Student Experimental Theater piece “The Most Massive Women Wins,” and pose on Arter Theater’s stage during the dress rehersal on Oct. 3, 2013. Performances were held on Oct. 4 and 5.

Perfect, a pairing of two plays concerned with the topics of eating disorders and body image, was performed on Oct. 4 and 5 in the Arter Little Theatre and was put on by the Student Experimental Theatre. The first performance was entitled, “The Most Massive Woman Wins” by Madeleine George and directed by Allegheny student Lauren Dominique, ‘16. The second performance was called “EAT (It’s Not About Food),” and was written and directed by Linda Daugherty.

“The Most Massive Woman Wins” consisted of a four-woman cast, beginning with all the women sitting in a waiting room at a liposuction clinic. One by one the audience hears what brought them to the clinic through monologues that continued to increase in severity.

The first woman faces a husband who wishes she looked better. She explains how her husband not-so-subtly left a pamphlet for the liposuction clinic on her dresser after making several comments about her weight and appearance.

The second woman lives with a mother who puts unrealistic strain and pressure on her daughter to maintain a “perfect” weight. When she is above the ideal number, her mother pays little attention to her and even made her stand behind a couch during family pictures to hide her size.

The third woman, we learn, was raped, and so she is striving to feel like she is good enough to be accepted.

Finally, the fourth character is a woman who demonstrates severe emotional instability due to years of feeling inadequate. She had even gone so far as to catching herself on fire, hoping to burn off the fat on her and please her husband.

The actresses spoke through the monologues so well, that as the characters recounted their interactions with others, the audience could feel the bombardment of pressures each of the characters faced.

Between these monologues were short scenes showing the cruelty of the population to other characters who struggle with self-image. In one scene, a group of children tell a girl that she is too fat to jump-rope with them. Along with those instances of cruelty, there was the eerie singing of nursery rhymes which portrayed the idea that obesity is learned by kids at a young age when people use food as comfort to children.

The women barely exchanged any conversation. It was a clear demonstration of the disconnectedness the women felt, even with each other who are women who have ended up in the same place as them.

The second performance, “EAT (It’s Not About Food)” explores the story of over 30 characters struggling with eating disorders and body image. The story mostly focuses on the experiences of 14-year-old Amy, who struggles with anorexia. We see Amy go through several hospitalizations between experiences of losing friends and fighting with family over her disease. Finally, a close friend in the hospital with her experiences heart failure from the eating disorder, and Amy realizes how serious her situation really is.

Amy’s story was most powerful as the audience watches her parents struggle under the stress of helping their child, facing the hard decision multiple times to hospitalize Amy. The audience was visibly moved by these scenes.

Between Amy’s story, we also see other situations people face. We see a boy, Joey, who can’t seem to stop binging and purging, and we see a wrestler using extreme methods such as laxatives and heavy exercising to keep his weight down before passing out. Additionally there were less dramatic characters battling body imagine, including one woman who can’t stop counting calories, and another who can’t accept her appearance.

Every character presented wore black. This kept the mood heavy even through satirical parts of the performance, like the impossibly ideal TV star who exploits the pressures audience members feel after seeing actors and actresses like her.

The use of a variety of different characters was very powerful, illustrating how many different people can end up suffering from the shared pain.

Lauren Dominique, ‘16,  the director of “The Most Massive Woman Wins,” said that she feels inclined to raise awareness on an the issue of eating disorders because high school and college students are highly susceptible to it.

“Self-hatred is a real thing, and is formed by various factors,” she wrote in the pamphlet handed out at the performance. “But in my experience, it has most commonly been caused by not being ‘good enough’ or ‘pretty enough,’ and really just by not being ‘enough’ of anything at all.”

Dominique also wrote that her main goal was to make sure to raise the awareness that every person struggles with the unattainable perfection they long for, and that because of it, none of them are ever alone.

Leanne Siwicki, director of “EAT (It’s Not About Food),”  was shocked after hearing the statistic that only one in 10 people receive proper treatment for eating disorders.

“I hope this play informs and challenges the assumptions made regarding diagnosis and treatment,” Leanne stated in the pamphlet.