Rachel Stockdale takes a Fat Chance

Rachel Stockdale is a jobbing actor and serial audition failure, so unsuccessful in the latter that she’s written a play about it. Described by a casting director as Northern, fat and a woman, he went on to explain she was only allowed to be two out of three if she wanted to make it as an actor. What better way to demolish that statement than to put on a show of your own and call it Fat Chance?

With the assistance of back projection, voice over, her stage manager and a very comfy looking sofa, Stockdale commanded the Corn Hall stage with her solo dissection of the merciless profession she has chosen. Uncompromising in tone – she insisted she is fat, not rounded or full figured – and candid in substance – she isn’t brave so much as defiant – this was an unapologetic examination of what it means to be bigger than average. Average itself came in for a hammering too, with scorn poured over the link between size and health, and there was nothing but distain for the shaky rationale behind Body Mass Index. There was also soul searching, not least in her inability to get into an expensive wedding dress. One of the more poignant moments came when handed over her phone, then her hair band, then her name badge, to a member of the audience. Anyone who has ever been on a diet will understand why divesting yourself of anything that could tip the scales is so important.

If all of that comes across as a mixed message, I’m convinced it was absolutely deliberate. Far from being a polemical rant, Stockdale was bold enough to reveal her own uncertainties. She may be angry for being judged, but she’s all the more angry for judging herself.