@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Fat Chance

By Michael Elkin, Directed by Jim Eckman

  • Rocket Man (Eric Brekke)
  • Sally (Heather Lang)
  • Sammy (Daniel Aguilar)
  • Sally (Heather Lang)
  • Rocket Man (Eric Brekke)
  • Sammy (Daniel Aguilar)
  • Sally (Heather Lang)
  • Sammy (Daniel Aguilar)
  • Sally (Heather Lang)

Jul 06-Jul 22, 2012

FRI JUL 6,13,20| 8:00 PM
SAT JUL 7,14,21| 8:00 PM
SUN JUL 15,22| 2:30 PM
THU JUL 19 | 7:00 PM

Description

A two act play about an overweight guy, Sammy (Daniel Aguilar), a bit of a loser who lives for food, his interaction with a local radio DJ (Eric Brekke) and a slightly overweight girl, Sally (Heather Lane) who interacts with the DJ and Sammy, all via radio and telephone.

This funny and yet poignant play pokes fun at our dietary habits with, perhaps, a modern-day look at love conducted via telephone, and radio, with the DJ for an intermediary. The DJ, perhaps taking pity on Sammy, attempts to hook him up on a date with Sally, another lonely caller. Poor Sally's last date was with a proctologist who dumped her when she was many pounds heavier. It takes all the DJ's persuasion/coercion to finally get them to agree to a date.

Act II finds Sally trying to decide what to wear and having to deal with telephone conversations with her best (with friends like this who needs enemies) friend and her totally dysfunctional mother all while listening to the callers on the radio making fun of the pending date. Will Sally and Sammy ever get together or will one or both back out? Tune in to "Fat Chance" to see the outcome of this love(?) story.

Off stage voices include the mother played by Carol Landau; Emily, the best friend played by Terri Conatore; Jim played by Jay Furnari and other unidentified callers.

Credits

DJ Rocket Man
Sally
Sammy
Director
Written By

Reviews

Fat Chance provides sobering glimpse at self-esteem issues
Honest and subtle portrayals resonate with audience

- By Gerald M. Kane , Las Cruces Bulletin

Henry David Thoreau famously observed that "most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." He wrote these words in the idyllic pastoral setting of Walden Pond, Mass., in 1845.

As the lights come up on the opening act of "Fat Chance," playing on the stage of the Black Box Theatre through Sunday, July 22, we recognize immediately that we are in the antithesis of a pastoral setting. We are in Peter Herman's spot-on rendition of any unkempt, grungy, nondescript, far-from-bucolic apartment anywhere in the United States. Womb-like, wrapped in a bright yellow sleeping bag, we encounter Sammy, the play's central character. It takes us a moment to discover that this overweight, sad character is both sleeping and snacking while engulfed in the sleeping bag.

As this important, poignant, thought-provoking play unfolded before me on opening night, I understood the depths and vision of Thoreau's words, which kept resonating in my mind.

Sammy, the epitome of quiet desperation, lives out his lonely life before us, ordering in pizza, swigging Hershey's chocolate syrup and squirting Reddi-wip directly into his mouth for a "quick fix." His only outlet to the real world is through the strident voice of a DJ on the radio who invites his listeners to call in and share their problems. As the plot unfolds, Sammy is "fixed up" over the air with Sally, who has overcome her own overeating goblins, but must still deal with self-esteem issues. Rather than summarize what transpires during the course of this play, let me simply say that "Fat Chance" is far from funny - as it has been billed in its early publicity. It is, however, an example of outstanding contemporary theater.

It is a sobering, sad and occasionally humorous look at the lives of three unique personalities who live out a small portion of their lives before us. We come away from the play with our minds stimulated and percolating with the characters' problems and issues ... as well as our own.

Award-winning playwright Michael Elkin wrote "Fat Chance" as a one-act play "to offer a chance for some of our nation's disenfranchised to be heard on stage and in the hearts of audiences." So successful was his play that he added a second act, "Slim Hopes," to present another aspect of the challenge of obesity and weight loss, and because audience members wanted to know more about Sally's character.

This visionary work was written more than 30 years ago and had a successful run in Los Angeles.

Elkin noted that the impetus to write the play was the need for understanding, which he had heard from overweight men and women who "buried their loneliness in ice cream and donuts. Surely, they asked, there was a scale of justice that could measure their worthiness outside the bathroom scale." Surprisingly, "Fat Chance" has not been performed with much frequency over the years. It was by chance that Mark Medoff shared the script with Ceil Herman, who in turn invited Jim Eckman to direct a production at the Black Box. With the obesity epidemic running rampant in our country, I am certain this play will receive more attention in the coming years.

Eckman's direction of the cast is masterful. In the pivotal role of Sammy, Daniel Aguilar turns in one of the finest, most raw and honest portrayals I have ever seen on a Las Cruces stage. If our theater community gives out awards, I would nominate Aguilar to receive best actor in a minute. Eric Brekke's portrayal as the matchmaker DJ is as annoying, as he is supposed to be. Each time his voice would bellow through the theater I would cringe ... in a good way! Heather Lang's counterpoint as Sally to Aguilar's Sammy is subtle, sincere and deeply touching. She epitomizes the "weight" of an individual's self image carried around by those who have successfully shed weight, only to never receive the affirmation and accolades they so desperately seek and deserve.

I urge you to call and make reservations to see "Fat Chance" while you can. It is a significant play, and its message will stay with you for quite some time.

In his program note, Eckman writes, "We are so fortunate to have Ceil and Peter Herman, (founders and producers of the No Strings Theatre Company) in this community. They have provided a wonderful venue for new playwrights as well as many old standards." To this I say "amen!"

For more information, visit www.no-strings.org or call 523-1223.

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