|Photo by Lisa Tomasetti
Alana Valentine, the writer, notes in the program:
Weight bias is a pervasive and destructive form of discrimination. Shaming and bullying people who are living in large bodies is common, callous and counter-productive to their life and health. But equally problematic is an attitude which advocates that people living in large bodies should just be left to their own devices, that when they ask for support and advice they should be ignored.Tim Jones, the Director of this project, is also the Artistic Director/General Manager of the Seymour Centre and as part of his mission in those positions has determined to highlight the presence of the Seymour Centre as the University of Sydney's performing arts venue and connecting it to the many Departments of research of the University to encourage a joint development of communication through the theatre of their serious investigations and endeavours so that the general public can easily absorb and appreciate, be enlightened of the studies of the University. With this project assiduously researched by Alana Valentine, Steve Simpson and the many nutrition scientists and doctors within the university have made a focused and active support to the project.
The text is voluminous in its language density, although, nothing is offered that is not easily recognised and absorbed. It is an old fashioned theatrical set of argument and debate, that has a roller-coaster emotional 'ride' that forbids any indulgences of sentimentality.
This has to do, as well, with the incredibly generous and open facilitation of the material by Megan Wilding who inhabits the body and world of the character of Monica with a naturalness and confronting honesty that allows the audience to participate in the hurdles of her pursuit of a dress for her wedding/marriage. Ms Wilding has a remarkable persona of a woman who has dealt with welters of discrimination and yet has managed to find an intelligent, though, not un-pained journey to survive. One can sense, both Monica's and Megan's past and admire their present that seems to be open to public exposure as it serves their mission to inform the world of the lives of the marginalised ''other". Ms Wilding's sense of reasonable forgiveness and acceptance accompanied by a striking wit permeates this work but, in truth, has done so in all of her offers I have seen on our stages.
Opposite her, Tracey Mann, as the couturier, the designer and maker of the wedding dress, with her character's experienced confidence of adapting to the needs of her 'customer', is cool and empathetic, and as the dramaturgical antagonist of Ms Valentine's writing, holds a credibility and wonderful balance to the offers of the Monica character. This pair of actors are worthy and generous participants that keeps this robust exposure of discrimination and the hurtfulness of it, both from the outside and more tragically from the inside of the world of Monica.
Sam O'Sullivan in his two roles gives support to the machinery of the play without pushing for attention, merely supporting the central story revealed by Ms Wilding and Mann.
The Set Design and Costuming, by Melanie Liertz are, relatively, pragmatic in their effect.
MADE TO MEASURE is another fine contribution by Alana Valentine to the canon of Australian Theatre Writing, in her artistic mission to revealing the marginalised voices of our communities, wholly justified by her intense practice of 'massaged' verbatim after a very focused research plan in the world of each play's focus of interest.