I really am not sure where to start with this one. OK, let’s start with the summary that I had read on it before.
A boy collects tears in carefully labelled jam jars; a girl is horrified that her best friend thinks her father is ‘hot’; a young boy bricks himself up in a Lego tower; and a young girl wears her mother’s shoes… The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories is an original work created and performed by a company of teenagers, with artist/director Mark Storor. Their candid tales – on themes of love, family, sexuality and religion – are revealed in 13 explicit portraits. With a live band, animation and video in a 360 degree setting, The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut and Other Stories creates a vision of the world as experienced through the prism of teenage years. Running time 1hr 15mins (no interval). May not be suitable for under 12s
Sounds rather intriguing, doesn’t it? And it was also in one of my favourite venues – the fantastic Roundhouse in Camden. What’s more, we got free tickets, which you can’t really go wrong with!
So, what was it about? I honestly have NO IDEA at all!
This wasn’t anything like what I was expecting. This was a mostly silent (apart from the musicians – who were actually VERY good, especially Gabi Froden, the singer) ‘interpretive’ telling of 11 ‘stories’. I say ‘interpretive’ because they were very open to interpretation.
I shall give you an example.
When we got in there (stage in the centre, audience all around in a circle) and the actors were standing on the arms of some of the chairs equally spaced around the circle under spotlights. When the lights went down, one of the lads started taking his shirt and trousers off, and he had a small doll strapped with masking tape to his chest. He made his way to a white plastic sheet that was on the stage and begun cutting paper, when all of the other actors picked up bottles of ketchup and sprayed him with them, until he was covered head to toe in ketchup, and unable to stand up, so he kept falling down.
He then cut off a lock of his hair, masking taped it to the doll’s head, removed the doll from his body, and sent it off in a small paper boat into the sky, that had just been drawn down by two of the girls.
That was the first vignette, and I don’t want to give too much away to people that want to go and see this, but I want to give a feel for how confused this made me.
From stuff that I had read before, I knew that this had been a long project worked on by Mark Storor and the actors (they were all young teens I believe). And that the stories were about stuff they had experienced as a kind of ‘coming of age’. I kind of thought that this first one might have been about abuse, and him trying to save his inner-child, but after that I was pretty lost.
Quite a few in the audience left during the performance, which we thought was a bit unfair – especially the ones that left when there were just two ‘stories’ to go…they had made it that far, what harm would it have caused them to stay?!
Overall, I thought it was…interesting. I wouldn’t be telling everyone to rush out and see it, I wouldn’t be telling people not to bother, but I think that they should go and see it with their minds open, and have to be of a type who is happy to see such a surreal and interpretive performance.
Oh – and we didn’t see any fat girls get a haircut!
*** EDIT *** UPDATE *** EDIT ***
Just read this: “Actor Jacob Crossley has Asperger’s syndrome and it was his experiences which inspired one of the show’s stories.
Burlesque Boy is about a teenager with an aversion to body hair who fears that everyone wants to kill him. He also has questions about his sexuality.”
well, I think my experience of the show may have been VERY different if I had known more of the stories behind each of the stories, as I didn’t get that at all from my experience, but it makes sense in hindsight.
Perhaps there should have been an explanation given out with the running order…