As an honorary member of the Fat Blokes club I was particularly looking forward to Scottee: Fat Blokes at HOME Manchester and giving it the rebellious middle finger to the world for all fat blokes everywhere. However, what I thought would be light hearted was anything but. Indeed this turned into a show that championed those men who are fat, through the personal testimony and killer dance moves of four ordinary blokes who ‘appen to be on the chubby side.
“What are you fucking laughing at!?”
As opening lines go, it’s one that suddenly stops the audience in its track. It’s a showstopper and a moment of genius from Scottee, because any preconceived ideas about what this show could be about are dispensed with in such devastating fury. What preceded the opening salvo was a titillating expectation that two of the cast members would be about to strip off to the strangely eroticised base thumping beats. Scottee plays on the stereotypes and knowing that watching fat men strip in an outlandish fashion would result in an all too familiar reaction.
In one fell swoop, Scottee lays bare the exact kind of emotions that he wants addressing and by the same token sets out his own agenda. You could hear the proverbial pin drop as Scottee bellows his angst about the ritual abuse that fat men and boys have to endure and how this production is wanting to challenge the audience about how they think of fat blokes.
Scottee takes this further by building this show around the personal experiences of four fat blokes who’ve never done this sort of thing before. They’re’ not really performers and yet here they are baring their souls as well as their clothes to a group of strangers. We meet Asad, Joe, Sam and Gez, all of whom share their stories of being Muslim, gay and fat, tales of chicken dipper dinners, accounts of the violence and the joyousness of not giving a four X.
And then there is the dancing.
Interlaced between the monologue of deeply personal recollections are these wonderfully mesmerising interludes of Scottee and his crew showing off their dance skills. Helped in no small part by choreographer Lea Anderson, the dance sections are another unexpected highlight to this fascinating production. The quintet are wonderfully in unison at times like a overweight synchronised set of swimmers who do their routines not under water but on a red dance floor.
The music plays a huge important part in meshing all of this together. It gives the show its heart and soul. The music is what you’d expect it to be, with tracks from Gossip and The Donnas. All uptempo with a kick ass beat, as if the rebellion to being fat shamed needed a angst ridden anthem (which could be neatly summerd up by Coathangers Shut the Fuck Up). Yet, it is not all raising a fist to the world, there is a subtlety in Scottee’s delivery.
Fat Blokes is not a show about fat blokes. Not really. It’s about people of all shapes and sizes treating other people with respect. For that we should be singing it’s praises far and wide.
Verdict: A no holds barred, ballsy, in your face production about blokes being fat, made by a fat bloke and featuring fat blokes. This is a thought provoking, raw, personal show about the stigma that men face being overweight.