Fat Chance, a one woman play written and performed by Rachel Stockdale is a powerful look at one actor’s journey to be taken seriously in a profession where you are told that you can be fat, Northern or female but you can’t be all three. Stockdale lays her soul (and at times her body) bare for the audience in a no-holds-barred performance.
The staging is simple, a living room couch with a lamp taking the place of boyfriend ‘Smelly’ and a series of outfits to change into. A wedding dress hanging on the right hand side of the stage feels ominous and its involvement in the action is one of the most poignant, heart-in-mouth moments of the whole show. The play looks at the three levels of fatphobia – intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional – how they permeate every aspect of culture and have affected the performer’s life. We learn more about Stockdale’s past, her weight fluctuations, the professional rejections and her journey to find peace with her body.
The direction from Jonluke Mckie is unshowy and allows the material to shine. There’s no doubt that Stockdale’s words and performance are the stars of the show and the audience are transfixed, often nodding along in recognition at the dialogue. The material is really funny but there’s also moments of heartbreak and disappointment that have you rooting for a happy ending. Stockdale spends a lot of time on stage in various stages of undress and while some may describe this as ‘brave’, it’s such a refreshing change to see a body on stage that looks like so many in the audience. By the end of the play some are moved to tears, and perhaps starting down their own path to body neutrality and away from self-hatred. Fat Chance is captivating, heartfelt and well worth an hour of your time.