A man sexily catwalks toward the audience, swaggering as he begins to loosen his clothes. There are some wolf whistles, a few cheers and a lot of laughter and then… an intervention!
Scottee, who has until now been sat to one side of the stage, grabs a mic and throws himself between two stark vertical neon tubes of light.
“Who just laughed? Who!?” He points out offending members of the audience and begins a confrontation that sets the radical tone for the evening. This is a show about fat men and how we will all come to love them (if we didn’t already).
Scottee has formed a dance ensemble with four other extra/ordinary blokes. Most of them have little to no stage experience. None of them are professional dancers.
It sounds like the premise for a piece of community theatre from which the only pleasure to be had might be a sense of worthiness at having supported it.
But Scottee pulls the rabbit out of the hat. He turns the men’s lack of actorly performance into a strength.
When these men talk about their experience of their fat bodies and others reactions to it, they are offering up something raw, unmediated, intense and vivid, often tearing up and bringing the audience to tears.
Asad Ullah, Joe Spencer, Sam Buttery and Gez Mez not only offer compelling insights into their lives and the intersections of fat, race, food, class and body objectification, they also bust out some great moves.
The choreography by Lea Anderson works with their bodies rather than against them, creating a fresh repertoire of movements.
The boys do a great job at embracing the mighty rhythms that their flesh creates and make the routines not just beautiful but also oddly emotional to watch.
Scottee punctuates the dance numbers and monologues from the troupe with his own often angry and accusatory observations about fat shaming in our culture.
They are brilliantly vicious and his push back is incendiary and unapologetic. “Shove your health up my fat arse” is just one of the cheer-worthy counter-slogans aimed at starting a fat revolution.
Even at the height of his most excoriating, Scottee can’t resist the odd twinkle and arched eyebrow. His command of an audience is impressive and he uses this blend of tone to get away with far more than a simple blistering rant could.
Homotopia, Liverpool’s annual November LGBTQIA arts fest, does a good job at finding some of the top queer work in the country.
Fat Blokes is one of its best. A staggeringly clever blend of body politics, sexy dance moves and illuminating autobiography. Let the revolution begin!
The show has had additional UK and Ireland tour dates added for Spring / Summer next year.
Homotopia runs until the end of November
Words: Stephen M Hornby