December 2015 was a funny time. I’d been back in Dublin for a month, after years in Amsterdam, feeling like I’d made the biggest mistake of my life coming home. It was the dead of winter – always a miserable time. I was working in the industrial wastelands of county Dublin with my bullying colleagues Mouth-Breather and Potato-Head (not their real names); and I was flat-sharing in the leafy suburb of Castleknock with the deranged FlatEnemy who lectured me constantly about how he was going to be a millionaire. I was less than content. I remember one evening seeing a YouTube link called ‘I’ve been radicalised’ starring the artist Scottee, describing his rage at being bullied and abused for being a fat, camp gay guy. It was powerful, in the way that honesty mixed with anger tends to be.
That YouTube clip seems to have been the genesis of Scottee’s full length show ‘Fat Blokes’ which opened in the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar last night. I had booked my tickets back on that fateful day before Christmas when my Christmas bonus had just landed in my bank account, and I’d been looking at the theatre schedules. I bought a pair of tickets as I’ll generally find an ally to accompany me. Not so yesterday evening. It had barely registered with me when booking that February 14th is the day for love, and that anyone who is coupled up (which tends to be most people of my acquaintance) would be otherwise engaged. I collected my tickets at the box office and asked the woman behind the counter to give the spare as a gift to anyone who was looking for a ticket to the sold out show. I hope she did.
‘Fat Blokes’ is a musical and dance show, about, and starring five, fat gay men, and how they navigate the world. It is a protest and a rebellion against a society which shames and humiliates them. At the beginning of the show, Joe starts to dance, but is told to stop by Scottee who then addresses the audience asking why some people are laughing. Why are you laughing at the fat man, when he is not dancing for comedy value? He tells us that this show is not for patronising art-wankers. From a backdrop of fridges each cast member takes a microphone to tell his story. Sam tells of a harrowing tale of being glassed while walking through Soho, singing ‘Anything Goes’ for the crime of being fat, by a fellow gay. It was truly shocking. Joe rages against the judgement placed by society on working class fat people. Scottee rails against the narrative that fat people are always the ‘before’ and never the ‘after’ picture. These speeches are interspersed with dance performances – the most affecting of which is a slow dance between Sam and Asad to the sound of Mama Cass singing ‘Dream a little dream’. That song brings me back to my teenage years seeing the teenage boys snogging in the park after their first illicit visit to the gay bar in the film ‘Beautiful Thing’. My eyes were not dry.
This show is a call to arms for fat people – to stop acquiescing to the narrative in which society places them. To navigate the world freely and to resist the strictures placed, by well-meaning or ill-meaning people.
I loved the show for its harsh, unflinching, honest look at the world we live in. Apropos of nothing Scottee is very hot.
‘Fat Blokes’ is on tonight and tomorrow night at the Project. Beg, steal or borrow, but go see this show.