As the audience shuffles into a hot room in the Attic of the Pleasance, Katie Greenall is doing the cha-cha slide. Against a sparkling backdrop of shredded silver plastic and balloons she slides to the right, before sliding to the right and cha cha now y’alling. It is not until everyone is seated and she takes to the microphone that the importance of the track is explained. At nine years old, Katie was obsessed with CD’s, when given a present by her mother in the form of this ‘banger’ she was thrilled until the inevitable sting in the tail emerged. Her mother thought she could exercise to it.
There follows a series of similarly blighted happy moments, from aunts that encourage her to ‘not let your weight get in the way of your dreams’ to snogs in night clubs that turn out to be for bets and a memorable drive in an open-top car on a summer’s day on the way to be hypnotized. Every ‘normal’ experience is seen through the distorted lens of other people’s reactions to a fat body.
This is not a morose piece though, Katie’s energy is infectious and the moments of sadness are punctuated with game show style interludes where a lucky member of the audience is invited on stage to participate in a game of ‘higher or lower’ with the numbers relating to how many teaspoons, skittles and pencils can be concealed in the various rolls of Katies body. The audience is pretty good at guessing coming tantalisingly close to winning the grand prize; to end systemic fatphobia! Alas, today it was not to be. Likewise, this show is not a pride-filled celebration of acceptance, nor an apology, rather an exploration of the ways in which fatness is treated. Laughing at Katie laughing at herself is uncomfortable, but irrepressible as she is very funny. Holding these conflicting emotions in tension means the piece lingers in the mind, long after the taste of the cheese and onion crisps she gives out fades.