Photos – Lisa Tomasetti
There’s a lot to chew on in Made To Measure, Alana Valentine’s three-handed examination of finger pointing and tongue lashing regarding body shape and fat shaming.
It’s a case of ‘by the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes’ as the play opens with large bodied Ashleigh cutting her finger and seeking medical attention, the medico intent on lecturing her about her body mass rather than attending her laceration. Ashleigh has faced this type of destructive derision and discrimination all her life. She met her fiance, Bryce, when he was part of a pack of mates playing Pull a Pig.
To his continual credit, he converted from chauvinist to chivalrous, finding, rightly, a lack of humanity in the humiliation of a female for the benefit of male humour. Now they’re getting married and Ashleigh wants a wedding dress made for her special day. She contracts a couturier called Monica and their first meeting is a frisson of drama and comedy, with Ashleigh’s shoulder chip of body shape bullying and self loathing becoming boulder size and rubbing up against the seemingly sensitive seamstress.
Hewn from a lifetime of derision, Ashleigh’s defence mechanism is to attack, her attitude antenna sensitised to the slightest censure by extremists who have instigated a fatwa on the fat, who offer no peace to the obese.
Megan Wilding plays Ashleigh with a cheeky charm, riffing the jolly fat person hypothesis with an underlying fragility that pitches beautifully the arc of comedy and pathos. Tracy Mann nails the sophisticated dressmaker, Monica, with a nonchalance and insouciance that belies her duty of care. Sam O’Sullivan gently juggles a Jekyll and Hyde double act as both Ashleigh’s buoyant betrothed, Bryce, and as the velvet tongued but vicious inner voice demons that taunt her, chipping away at her self esteem.
Melanie Liertz set design conjures the elegance of the couturier’s salon draped decorously with fine gauze curtains and chandelier that effortlessly converts to a hospital waiting room. There’s a splendid subtlety to both Verity Hampson’s lighting and David Bergman’s sound design.
Valentine’s Made To Measure is, measure for measure, in a world of “fat cows and skinny cunts”, a conduit for conversation, and maybe, just maybe, help coax change in blinkered, bullying behaviour perpetrated by primitive public perception.
Seymour Centre presents
Made To Measure
by Alana Valentine
Director Timothy Jones
Venue: Reginald Theatre | Cnr Cleveland Street and City Road, Chippendale NSW
Dates: 17 May – 1 June 2019
Tickets: $46 – $37