Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, London
Food for Thought!Neil La Bute has added to his plays about body image with an interesting take on, to put it bluntly, having a fat partner with a great personality!
And what I liked about it was that, as well as being very witty, there was always that dark uneasy undercurrent beneath that made you really think about the situation. He also doesn’t take you down the road that you expect at the end, which I think was a far more truthful way of dealing with the subject.
Tom (Robert Webb) meets the big, beautiful, intelligent and funny Helen (Ella Smith). They have an instant attraction and start to date, but although they begin to fall in love, Tom feels that he can’t tell his work colleagues Carter (Kris Marshall) and Jeannie (Joanna Page), of whom the latter had been having a casual relationship with him.
I was so pleased that Robert Webb, one half of Mitchell and Webb, didn’t just do his popular Peep Show slash comedy act. As he veered between being the sensitive and understanding boyfriend who knows what the right thing to do is, but just can’t quite do it, he proved that he really is a very good actor indeed.
Kris Marshall as always gave a solid and well timed comedy performance as the lad about town for whom a woman’s appearance is everything and Joanna Page was good as the slim but spurned ex-girlfriend, although her character is very difficult to actually like and her American accent often sounded as though it had come by way of Barry Island, just like her Gavin and Stacy character.
But the performance of the night goes to Ella Smith as the girl who can’t believe that someone likes her just for her. She feels that her weight will always be an issue and as the play unfolds she is proved right. Her combination of bravado and sadness is quite heartrending and you just want to Tom to stick two fingers up at the others and do the right thing. But does he?
I don’t want to give it away so you’ll have to get down to Whitehall to find out. But I feel it’s more than worth it to see a top cast in an entertaining play that keeps you guessing.
And what’s more? I even know which one’s Mitchell and which one’s Webb now!