Fat Girls Don’t Dance review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘candid and disarming’
“Too fat to play pretty roles. Too pretty to play fat roles.” In Maria Ferguson’s disarming, autobiographical solo spoken-word show, she talks with honesty and openness about her relationship with food.
Ever since she was little Ferguson wanted to be a performer. She spent hours perfecting dance routines. She loved to act. She loved to be on stage. But this wish comes with certain pressures and expectations about what performers should look like.
In Fat Girls Don’t Dance, Ferguson explores the complexity of eating disorders, eloquently illustrating that they’re never just about losing weight but also fundamentally about control. She performs a series of repeated actions, running from one side of the bare black stage to the other, picking up speed. Her dance routines become almost feverish – she really puts herself through it.
She’s an amiable, engaging performer with a fine, strong singing voice, and as she dishes out biscuits and sweet treats to the audience, she makes it clear that even this gesture isn’t a simple one.
The piece could definitely benefit from a little more structure, a little more shape, but particularly in the environment of the fringe, where routines are disrupted and eating habits chaotic, this conversation is an important one.