BWW Review: One Man Show SIZE MATTERS Now on DVD
Two thirds of all American adults are overweight. Yet when it comes to acceptance of fat folks, we still judge a book by its corpulent cover. Nowhere is this sort of stereotyping more common than in the entertainment industry, where 'size matters.' That's also the title of a funny and touching one man show starring Raymond McAnally, now captured on DVD. The play was filmed in McAnally's home town of Franklin, Tennessee, during three performances at their Historic Franklin Theatre.
SIZE MATTERS is a biographical one-man show that not only stars McAnally, but was written by him as well. He shares the bare stage with a chair and a projection screen - which provides occasional glimpses into the McAnally family photo album. As size goes, McAnally is more 'Sears catalog husky' than 'morbidly obese' - at least as he currently appears on screen. This also isn't an 'issues' play that takes society to task for its narrow views of overweight people. That doesn't mean McAnally doesn't humorously relate some of the challenges of wearing a size 54 suit in a world designed for a 40 regular. His expert pantomime of the awkward discomfort of air travel for the portly guy is 'spot on' funny. He also skillfully takes us to an all-male gathering where the fellas talk about fashion for the fuller frame just as plus-sized gals might do.
Before our eyes the talented actor deftly transforms into various people in his life: his nattily dressed dad, his adoring wife Whitney, and - most importantly - his chatterbox nephew Morgan. It is through Morgan that McAnally sees himself clearest. In fact, the two even share a family resemblance. He lovingly confides in us that Morgan looks like the chubby kid in the movie UP. In the show's tour de force centerpiece, Uncle Ray plays Auntie Mame (figuratively) when Morgan visits him in the Big Apple, taking him on a tour of Lower Manhattan that naturally includes a couple of Greenwich Village's most famous pizzerias. Sometimes the insights provided by motor-mouthed Morgan feel more like the author's voice, but as the show goes on it becomes increasingly apparent that Morgan is simply the big kid trapped inside grown-up McAnally.
The play's central question is also posed by Morgan. When he learns his uncle is slimming down because he is engaged to be married, he asks him if that means "You don't love you as much as Aunt Whitney loves you?" With Morgan's help he eventually discovers that 'the struggle is all' - that although he may never be cast as the leading man - dealing day-to-day with his weight (with some professional help) is the main thing.
SIZE MATTERS is a wonderful showcase for Ray McAnally - a talented actor recently seen on TV's "Chicago Fire" and "Black Mirror." In the near future - when McAnally is the next John Goodman or Kevin James (and he certainly has that potential) - I look forward to watching this DVD again as part of what will certainly be a career of considerable size. And in show business, size matters.
SIZE MATTERS starring Raymond McAnally and directed by Joel Wilson runs 66 minutes and is distributed by Mountain Mack Productions LLC and is now available from Amazon.com
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Michael T. Mooney (reviewer) wears a size 60 suit. In 2002 he staged the American premiere of Sir Alan Ayckbourn's BODY LANGUAGE, a dark comedy about body image. A lifetime member of Weight Watchers, he continues to deal daily with issues of being overweight in a world where size still matters.