Fat Men in Skirts

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Editorial Review

Capital Fringe Festival: Molotov Theatre’s ‘Fat Men in Skirts’

By Rachel Weiner
Sunday, July 10, 2011

A bloody tone poem of love and anxiety, Molotov Theatre’s “Fat Men in Skirts” is surprisingly sweet for a play about rape and cannibalism.

The spacey, demanding Phyllis (K. Clare Johnson) and her son, Bishop (Matthew Marcus), land on a remote island after a plane crash. As the years pass, Bishop slowly transforms from a stuttering, Katharine Hepburn-obsessed loser to a lethal monkey-man, while Phyllis starts to go insane. The philandering husband and father left behind (Dave Gamble) moves on with a drug-addicted porn star (Katie Culligan). Then things get weird. Tenuous family bonds warp into horrifying power plays.

Like “Lost,” “Fat Men in Skirts” doesn’t make a lot of sense, relying instead on a swirl of skin-crawling creepiness and melodramatic flashbacks to keep the engine running. It mostly works, although the last act’s mental hospital postmortem takes most of the tension out of the room. The intentionally repetitive dialogue can become grating, yet for every dreamy monologue there’s an appropriately terse one-liner to wash it down.

Solid acting keeps the concept-heavy script from collapsing under its own weight. Gamble is especially good as the passive-aggressive husband, a put-upon straight man in a world of ardent weirdos. Johnson has great comic timing, and Marcus has a captivating way of flaring his nostrils.

Molotov’s thing is gruesome, naturalistic horror — but this year’s offering isn’t served quite as raw as previous years’. “Fat Men,” written by Nicky Silver, feels more grown-up than past Molotov shows, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The red stuff doesn’t spray the way it did in last year’s “Horrors of Online Dating,” and the much-hyped baby eating is not as gross as you would expect. Still, it might be wise to go vegetarian for a night.