Review: My Weight and Why I Carry It – poignant, funny and insightful –– premieres at NAF 2022
|My Weight and Why I Carry It- comedic theatre on at National Arts Festival- June 23 to July 3, 2022 |
Performer: Tasmin Sherman
Director: Ingrid Wylde
Producer: Anton Krueger and Rhodes University Drama Department
Designer: Emily Latt
Dates and venue for My Weight: See booking link
Booking link: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/my-weight-and-why-i-carry-it/
Visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za for the full programme and bookings
I saw My Weight and Why I Carry It, yesterday, June 25 at National Arts Festival 2022, Fringe. The first show was sold out and yesterday’s show was almost sold out. Two more shows – today, June 26 and tomorrow – June 27. Tasmin Sherman has created a poignant, funny and insightful piece of comedic theatre. It is her debut theatre show and is impressive in terms of its script (she wrote it as part of her masters in playwriting at Rhodes University, Drama Department). The design and props are cleverly used to interface with the delivery of the character’s “coming out as fat”. The protagonist Vic Woode shares with the audience, her journey and why she is standing in front of us, in a bikini, revealing herself physically and emotionally to us. In stripping down to her bikini (off with the fluffy robe), Vic tells us that it is okay to laugh. However, the take home of the piece is that we should laugh with – and not ‘at’ her. Vic reveals how she was fat shamed at a pool party, age 11. There were pool toys- a flying unicorn (big), killer whale (teensy) and a flamingo. There is loads of symbolism in the considered use of props which amplifies the narrative.
Vic tell us how her first memory was of custard (Ultramel) and she conjures up vivid images of growing up with a once fat mom, who became thin and audited her every eating move because she was concerned about her daughter’s health. A host of other characters are portrayed as Vic unpacks weighty issues. The bottom line is that she embraces her body and encourages us all to focus on her as a person and not someone defined by her weight. Fat-a-phobia is not okay. Fat people, she muses, are judged when they eat in public. They feel the gaze of others watching.
Vic (23) is a fictional character. Tasmin Sherman (24) has drawn from her own experiences and from other people she knows and what they have been through. Her mother’s name is not Miranda (the controlling gold clad charachter in the play) and she was there at yesterday’s performance and told me how proud she is of her daughter and how “brave” she is to go on stage and present a show which is unerringly honest and intensely intimate. Sherman’s parents are still married and the father character, Martin is not her dad. It’s the landscape of fat-a-phobia and peoples’ scrutiny and judgment that Sherman unpacks in My Weight and Why I Carry It. This is an impressive debut by a writer/performer. The script has been pared down to just over a half an hour. The quirky props and quick-change scene changes (out of bath robe and bikini reveal, cover up and out again) are fabulous. This is not simply a stand-up show. The script, pool party setting and props- makes for compelling theatre. It is very funny and yes the character, Vic tells us that we can laugh so we do and we must laugh because that is how we work through our issues, but laugh in a good way. After the show, I was raving to people and one of them nodded her head and said that she can relate because she has been skinny shamed. She has a medical condition and cannot put on weight and she is subjected to a constant rant by others that she looks like a bean pole. This hurts her as she feels diminished by the judgment of others. With My Weight and Why I Carry It, Tasmin Sherman has created a comedic theatre experience which entertains and which will hopefully make people think carefully when they blithely comment on peoples’ bodies. Bodies are private.