Serving food for thought

Chewing The Fat

Birmingham Rep Door

****

SELINA Thompson is an artist with a strong personality and a loud voice. She wants to talk about fat, a subject deeply personal to her and perhaps universal to us all.

Dictated by the images we see around us and those we speak to, Thompson’s performance of live art, creative writing and performance challenges everyday perceptions of beauty and body image.

She presents her view of fat in this unique and creative piece. Thomson is part of the REP Foundry, which gives artists like Thompson the opportunity to have their say in front of an audience.

Thompson talks about her journey in a fantastically poetic style. The whole show belongs to her alone, including the script. In her words, Thompson gives herself entirely to the audience so that we can completely relate to her story.

Her performance starts with an unusual pre-set, where she hands out instructions to strangers in the audience, orders they must complete during the show, including throwing food at her while she performs at any given time. This sets an immediate intimacy, and Thompson’s warmth was established so that we got to know her both as performer and as a person. Her warmth radiated the entirety of the space and was infectious to all.

The performance was vibrant and included everybody. Thomson interacts with us all throughout, in moments of coming out of character and talking directly to us, making sure we are welcomed in her unique and wonderful world. We are handed Selina Thompsona snack as we enter the Door and are given the opportunity to open them at the beginning of her show. Within the performance itself, Thompson reflects her own relationship with food and body image with striking and bold imagery.

Thompson’s mind exudes metaphor and symbolism. Her artistic use of food as props were definitely some of the most memorable moments throughout the piece, especially when presenting us with late night binges which consisted of playing, eating and handling food.

With this, Thompson showed the audience a deeply personal connection which stemmed from early childhood to the woman she presents herself as today. Her body becomes the food she superbly describes within her speeches and the food literally becomes one with Thompson.

Thompson has a great way of explaining to the audience about her artistic decisions. In moments that provoked gasps from many, she accepted, and even welcomed these reactions and then explained the importance of her bold imagery, allowing us to relive her journey together.

She gives a brave and endearing representation in her own style of live art. It can be said that this performance is not to everyone’s taste, as it was proved tonight with varying reactions, but it a piece that is definitely brave to show a universal struggle in a hard hitting way.

Thompson pushes the boundaries of what we perceive to be live art along with performance of the spoken word in order to celebrate a culture that is constantly mocked. In her performance, she shows that in spite of the worries that people may have towards their bodies, we must embrace and see ourselves at face value. From Thompson, we can gain encouragement as we see in to her imagination and connect with not only with her as a person, but also with her story and definitely feel the incredibly close connection she holds to that of food, as much as she does. To 16-05-15

Elizabeth Halpin

14-05-15 

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