MisShapen at the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2013 Reminds Us to Love Our Love Handles
By Melissa Gordon
MisShapen. First of all, I’d like to say thank you for making both my guest and I cry. No, but seriously, thank you.
Before my teen years, I was borderline obese because my mother enjoyed cooking fried platanos and greasy BBQ chicken just a little too much—that isn’t to say my mother’s cooking wasn’t absolutely DELICIOUS—this led to a decade-long struggle with my weight in which food became my greatest enemy and I agonized over the fact that I didn’t look like the girls on television. As a vibrant and healthy twenty-two year old today, I’ve made leaps and strides in my self-confidence and self-image, but shows like MisShapen remind me that the struggle is never really over and should not be ignored. The cycle is continuous, and the message that we are not alone in our endless struggle to love our own bodies must be heard.
MisShapen, presented by Buried Moon Productions and featured in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, is a collaborative piece with interlacing pieces of comedic acts and dramatic monologues that seek to highlight issues about distorted self-image. With a ten-person cast and its own tiny band, this independent show is a powerhouse of heartwarming performances and a lot of laughs despite its heavy subject matter. MisShapen takes topics such as weight gain, excessive exercising, body dysmorphia, body envy, and shame. It doesn’t just discuss them—it underlines them and forces us to think about how we truly view ourselves as human beings.
Above all, MisShapen is a hilarious show. My compliment to The Goat Band on their rendition of Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls. That was one of the oddest, but most entertaining pre-shows, I’ve ever experienced. Other comedic highlights include catchy music about the terror of the food groups (“I’m Protein, nice to MEAT you. Eat dead flesh!”), as well as the jammin’ pity party in which a D.J. accompanies an aggressive unicorn to beat up a dog that is trying to tell its owner to love herself.
However, the true beauty of this show can be found in its more serious pieces. “My Body is a Temple: What Does That Even Mean?” is a beautifully powerful and abstract piece that summarizes the dangerous power we have and don’t have over our own bodies. Additionally, “Oreo” uses paint and dramatic language to convey racial stereotypes and identity with artistic passion. In another untitled scene, a robust male actor undresses down to his boxer-briefs and prompts the audience to think about gender issues and identity.
At times, MisShapen is an awkward experience. There were moments when the actors were too loud or their performances came off as inexperienced. I would have appreciated more of an emphasis on not just the issue of food and weight, but also more messages about overcoming distorted self-image concerning racial or sexual identity (albeit, the small inclusion of this subject matter may have been because the show was slimmed down from its original 1 hour and 40 minutes to under 60 minutes). Nevertheless, MisShapen brings something new to the table in the fact that its message is refreshingly honest. This show laughs at itself and seeks to define the humanity in self-disgust. Additionally, it is realistic in the fact that it does not insist on an immediate solution. Rather, this play points out that sometimes there aren’t happy endings when it comes to insecurity and distorted self-image while enforcing the undeniable fact that no one is alone. . I am not alone—my chubby little preteen self with BBQ sauce-covered fingers was not alone —and most importantly, you are not alone.
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Buried Moon Productions
Co-directed by David Anis and Annalisa Sevaly
Fri June 28th @ 10:00pm
Sunday June 30th @ 11:30am
Tickets available through the Hollywood Fringe Festival Website