Title (as given to the record by the creator): Review: The Most Massive Woman Wins
Date(s) of creation: February 1995
Creator / author / publisher: Elizabeth Stark, FaT GiRL
Physical description: A zine page printed in black and white, this review is the right of two columns
Reference #: FG2-051-george
Links: [ PDF ]
The Most Massive Woman Wins
Play by Madeleine George, 1994 Young Playwrights Festival, New York.
– review by Elizabeth Stark
Liposuction waiting room: the stage is bare, a chair in each corner. Four women of varying sizes sit reading fashion magazines. Waiting.
So opens the 1994 Young Playwrights Festival’s production of Madeleine George’s evocative play The Most Massive Woman Wins. Astonishingly, George was 18 when she submitted the play to the festival.
Each of the women tells her own story, and slowly they begin to interact and support each other in the telling. They delve into food issues, job discrimination on the basis of fat, pressure to lose weight from significant others (limited in this play to husbands and boyfriends), bulimia, self-destructiveness, and growing up fat.
“I see that to want and demand things is bad,” the skinniest of the women remembers about her childhood. “When I finally want so little I can barely walk, my mother pulls me out from behind the chaise lounge and says, ‘This is my daughter.”‘
The most intense monologue comes from the fat housewife, her hair in a kerchief, who describes cutting her skin with kitchen knives and picking at her feet. “I wanted to take myself completely apart,” she says. Eventually she set herself on fire. The ultimate consequence of her hatred for her flesh, she imagines, “Just me and my bones running naked through the forest, feeling the breeze.” Though she saves herself, the site of her recounting is the liposuction waiting room, so this is no redemptive climax.
Other parts of the play are fiercely humorous: “Why did everyone always tell me I had beautiful skin?” one woman asks. And later, “I am so very tired of being everybody’s warm and fuzzy sounding board. I want to be a full-blown sexual threat right now.”
Childhood rhymes and chants are interspersed throughout, and the layers of their meanings are revealed by the context:
“She drank up all the water
She ate up all the soap
She tried to eat the bathtub
But it wouldn’t go down her throat.”
At the end, the women shed the paper patient-coats they changed into earlier, and stand in slips, t-shirts, underwear. They seem to be collectively abandoning liposuction. They recite the beginning of the Rapunzel story, about a woman who had never asked for anything, but one day wanted a neighbor’s radishes. “These were no ordinary radishes, this was no ordinary woman.” And then again, “This was no ordinary woman.”
Madeleine George is to be commended for a searing play that presents fat (and skinny) women as raging, passionate, struggling, and possibly, together, triumphing. The talent of this young playwright is formidable, and though The Most Massive Woman Wins didn’t deal with dykes, I suspect it’s only a matter of time ….
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