Chewing the Fat is a fabulously messy performance centring on a complicated relationship with food. Created and performed by Selina Thompson, it is a believable and heartfelt show that directly communicates with the audience on a very personal level.
Covered in balloons, Selina greeted the audience at Derby Theatre’s Studio on Saturday like an old friend, immediately engaging us with the story she was about to unravel.
In a powerful monologue, she began by crushing all of our ideas and connotations about fat women: “I’m not big-boned”, “I’m not curvy”, “I’m not jolly”, and with every statement, she popped a balloon which emitted all sorts of lovely things.
Afterwards, covered in glitter, whipped cream and coloured powder (as was some of the audience!), she began the tale of her love affair with food.
From pouring crumbs out of teapots, pockets and pillow lining, to opening a piñata full of cottage cheese, this performance was absolutely chock-full of delicious imagery. In a fantastically intense scene filled with greasy squelches, the actress filled her mouth with pieces of chicken.
As the audience watched on, the message was clear. Binge-eating is an act of desperation, but in the end, it will not succeed in making you feel better.
Despite cringing during this scene, I found myself grinning throughout the rest of the show. Selina succeeded in making a taboo approachable through her humour and creativity. She incorporated the audience into her tale beautifully, and we all felt involved in every second.
Chewing the Fat was an acceptance of who we are, and a celebration of difference. It was a lesson on being open with ourselves and not shying away from terms that are deemed socially unacceptable, specifically being “fat”.
Review by Bilborough College student Bethany Morledge, of Ilkeston