Fat Alice

Alison Carr
Traverse Theatre Company & Aberdeen Performing Arts
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Meg Fraser as Moira and Richard Conlon as Peter Credit: Leslie Black

Sadly this is the penultimate A Play, A Pie and A Pint of this season. The concept continues to work its magic, allowing you to consume three of the most satisfying things in life, vegetarian haggis pies, real ale and theatre all in one go. Well nearly one go: you have to eat the pie (which can be meat by the way) in the bar.

You can consume the pie and pint after the play, but on this occasion it's lucky I consumed them first, as the play featured a couple having a meal and one might have got hungry. Admittedly it just meant I was hungry afterwards.

The couple, Peter (Richard Conlon) and Moira (Meg Fraser) are not enjoying their dinner as much as I did my pie, because there is a weight hanging over them. Literally and metaphorically.

Moira believes it is time, after ten years, for Peter to come clean and tell his wife about his relationship with Moira. Today is the deadline, but Peter is too cowardly to acquiesce to her desires.

Meanwhile there are disturbing things happening in the flat upstairs as the ceiling of Moira's flat begins to bulge and eventually gives way. A heavy body bearing down on them, which it turns out is Moira's über-obese upstairs neighbour.

Of course the monster from above whose giant, but well-manicured, feet start to protrude through Moira's ceiling is a fairly blatant metaphor. Which works perfectly fine in this short comic piece. Both actors deliver some great lines and expressions, leading to some hearty laughs from the appreciative.

Indeed some of A Play, A Pie and A Pint's best pieces have involved the everyday meeting the surreal. It may be the need to grab the audience's attention in a short space of time. Also the short format means one doesn't need to go into too much detail of the ramifications of a particular phenomenon.

Like Abigail's Party, the eponymous heroine is never seen, merely her ripples felt. What Alice represents probably depends on your perspective. The playwright is clearly more sympathetic to Moira and it would appear that the monster upstairs represents the evergrowing scale of Peter's lies.

Or it might also represent Moira's love for Peter, something which by her own admission is unhealthy; she wants to put on weight for him to be better than his scrawny descriptions of his wife. Either way it is something for Moira to shake-off.

I won't spoil the ending by saying whether or not it is a happy one for Moira. Let's just say it doesn't end as badly as the love triangulations happening next door in the Lyceum's current Ibsen.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin

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