Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Fat Men In Skirts - by Nicky Silver
The earliest of the published plays, and it feels it, very raw, loud when it wants to be, little restraint - working exactly right for this play's brutal cri d'couer.
I'm interested in Silver's structures. Each of these plays contains itself in minimal acts and scenes with a clear this then this logic to them. In Fat Men In Skirts this means three acts. The first act, set on a deserted Island where Phyllis and Bishop have survived a plane crash. Five years pass on this island, some flashbacks - and shifts to present day - introduce Norton, Husband & Father & Philanderer, and his developing relationship with Pam who, by the end of the act is pregnant. Phyllis and Bishop cannibalize those killed in the crash and the act ends with the final transgression, of Bishop raping his mother.
Move to Act 2 and Phyllis and Bishop have been rescued and returned home to Barton. Phyllis is shattered and Bishop a nightmare of a teen-ager, abusive to all and bringing his mother single shoes in a sort of tribute. Barton tries to maintain something, Pam is around, posing as the maid so as not to raise suspicions. Horror ensues to end the act as Bishop continues the customs of the island in this nice upper-middle class home.
Finally Act 3 and Bishop is in a prison for the criminally insane. The dead return to speak and an inmate develops a crush on Bishop. Driving this scene is an interesting structural choice. He's killed his father at the end of Act 2. That was seen and was goaded on by his mother. But in Act 3 we learn that he's also killed Phyllis. The scene unfolds with no explanation of this - and at the final moment the characters from the asylum change on stage into Pam and Nestor (speaking from the dead) and the death is played out in conversation with them all.