Theatre review: Fat Alice
Alison Carr turns mundane adultery into metaphorical body horror
There's an old adage, attributed to Paul Newman: 'Why go for hamburgers when you have steak at home?' It's this euphemism for adultery which is the framework for Alison Carr's play.
Smug Peter (Richard Conlon) and neurotic yet lovely Moira (Meg Fraser) star as a couple whose ten year affair is yet to be uncovered. When cracks appear in Moira's living room ceiling, it's not just a metaphor for their dying relationship but a catalyst for damaged Moira's self analysis.
The cracks are caused by a morbidly obese neighbour, the titular Alice, brilliantly evoked by Andy Cowan's thunderous sound design. She is never seen, which is not only a winning comic device, but also symbolises the lives spiralling out of control. Peter's wife Patricia is pregnant, and Moira knows she's pathologically grateful for any crumbs of affection thrown her way. Even her sparkly dress and tap routine goes unnoticed by the distracted Peter, who is trying to escape their dead-end relationship.
Carr's ripe dialogue is painfully funny and true, and the duo are an amazing double act, fiery yet tender. Fat Alice is a surreal little wonder, a feast of unexpected delights.