BWW Review: MY BIG FAT BAHOOKIE Tackles the Human Experience in Austin, TX
Currently playing at The Vortex Theatre, MY BIG FAT BAHOOKIE, presented by Renaissance Austin, challenges the treatment and attitude our modern culture has towards people who "dont fit inside the box". The box being no big fat 'bahookies'. This original work is written, directed and narrated by Lorella Loftus. The Vortex Theatre is known for their avant-garde flair - this original work delivers on this historical style of theatre. As the audience enters the theatre, you become a supportive member of the "No More Diest Club". The stage is open and welcoming, showcasing a projection modeled after pantaloons, and reversible stage inserts to maneuver throughout the show. The feeling in the room was lively and exceptionally supportive right off the bat. As a member of the "No More Diets Club", as is the expectation with other clubs dealing with hard hitting issues, the scenes are played out with focus on the "fat" experience. These experiences we all can relate to with doctors, lovers and most importantly emphasized, the massive diet industry. Journey through the actors experiences, and the truly shocking revelations the show uncovers about the human experience.
With the ensemble cast shape shifting throughout the show to support the onstage cornerstone, Lorella Loftus is our narrator to segue from one example to the other. As the writer and director of this piece, her passion was clear on stage and her honesty was powerful. This show would be better described as a variety show than a traditional play. Audience, or club members, are presented with a rap, a song, a cooking demonstration and much more to highlight the absurdity the present mold the mainstream media presents us with. A few highlighted examples were performed by Eva McQuade. Seen on stage all over Austin, McQuade's commitment to her comical roles in MY BIG FAT BAHOOKIE, were much appreciated by the audience. As Chef Alfredo, McQuade hysterically cooks up a diet product that should resemble eggs, along side actual scrambled eggs. These plates were then distributed to various eager audience members to eat and describe. This added a level of spontaneity to her performance and encouraged the audience to participate. Although through out other audience focused portions in the show, the spontaneity was lacking as the scenes dragged on.
Unbeknownst to 'new' club members, ensemble members were placed throughout the house to participate in the show. Smart move by Loftus, however they were mostly distracting until their big moments on stage. The audience plant Mindy Rast-Keenan was incredible when invited to the stage. Her bravery and commitment made the audience cheer and feel empowered. It is not in the best taste to ruin a surprise, but the audience should be warned there may be some stripping involved. Extremely tasteful and rewarding, her performance in this segment was the highlight of the night. With a handful of standout performances, the show reaches highs with big audience engagement. However with a run time of two hours, condensing the low level material would be recommended as the show did drag through the second act. The hard hitting facts and examples of the human experience are equal to those that are rather flippant and detracted from the more powerful moments.
As a woman who walks this world relating to the experiences shared on stage, I commend Loftus for sharing her story and sanctioning the 'new' members of the "No More Diets Club". A true moment of vulnerability was her performance of an original song entitled, "Fat with Love". This moment in the show was a triumph for her, and the true meaning of the piece was conveyed. A further recommendation would be to leave the less powerful scenes aside and focus on what really works and adds meaningful engagement from the audience. Playing at The Vortex Theatre through May 6th, MY BIG FAT BAHOOKIE examines the human experience of over-coming the unnecessary societal expectations of ourselves and simply loving.
Renaissance Austin in association with THE VORTEX
MY BIG FAT BAHOOKIE
Written and Directed by: Lorella Loftus
April 21st - May 6th
Live Streaming: April 28th @ 8PM
POST SHOW DISCUSSION: April 29th, May 5th
ASL Interpreted Saturday April 22nd
www.vortexrep.org / 512-478-5282
Photo Credit: Errich Peterson