Cast: Alan Paris, Irene Christ, Edward Mercieca, Pia Zammit

Directed by: Cornelia Crombholz

Performances: 25, 26, 27 April & 1,2,3,4, 9, 10, 11 May 2003

Nicky Silver is a contemporary American playwright

Silver: "FAT MEN IN SKIRTS is, ultimately, a love story, albeit a rather unconventional one…"

The Play:

An unusual fate has befallen Phyllis Hogan and her young son Bishop. En route to Italy, where they were meant to join husband and father, Howard Hogan, a philandering film director, their plane has crashed. With all the other passengers dead, they find themselves stranded on a desert island. Under the glaring sun that beats down on their unknown location, they consume the cosmetic provisions from Phyllis’ handbag. When these run out, survival measures become more drastic: Phyllis sends Bishop to cut limbs off the dead passengers… for dinner.

Five years on, Phyllis and Bishop are miraculously rescued from the island, but the creatures that return to Howard Hogan’s apartment - which he meanwhile shares with his mistress, the wannabe actress Pam – bear scant resemblance to the wife and son that once set off for Italy. Subsistence in the wilderness, incest and cannibalism have taken their toll. While Phyllis has retreated into a world of her own from which she is rarely able or willing to connect with reality, Bishop has turned from a shy, stuttering schoolboy into a brutal beast immune to most people’s natural inhibitions.

Howard Hogan does not have the heart to disclose to his dishevelled wife that he intends to marry Pam. Blind to the extent to which insanity has entered his living room, he forces his live-in lover to hide and pretend she is the maid. Meanwhile the bloodthirsty Bishop pursues his island ways… with deadly consequences.

Written in 1988, Fat Men in Skirts is an eccentric and darkly funny comedy that explores human fragility under extreme conditions. What makes it such an unusual piece of theatrical writing is not just the wildly imaginative desert island scenario at the heart of the story, but the powerful proximity of the humorous and the horrendous, the razor-sharp punch lines and the abysses that lie beneath them.

In flashbacks Silver exposes the shaky foundations of a family of three. Despite his bitingly comic treatment of situations such as Phyllis’ and Howard’s wedding night and married life following the baby’s arrival, the ring of realism is evident. It is from these dark points of departure that this highly entertaining author catapults a mother and her son on a bizarre, riveting and hilariously macabre journey from civilisation to wilderness and back.

Shrill, shocking and shockingly funny, Fat Men in Skirts is characterised by off-Broadway audacity that makes for disturbing and exhilarating theatrical entertainment. In America, Nicky Silver (born in 1960) is today recognised as one of the leading comic voices of his generation. Fat Men in Skirts is one of his earlier works. Nicky Silver lives in New York.


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