Banyan play highlights” plus-size” life in dating world

Bradenton Herald — Actress Margot Moreland doesn’t necessarily need a script to guide her into a certain kind of heartache. She’s been down that road before.

In a dating world dominated more by physical appearance than personality, a plus-sized woman may find herself insecure at times.

Moreland can definitely relate.

“When you’re a big girl living in a small girl world, you’re faced with that constantly — the struggle of having to define yourself and be OK with yourself, and yet not want to be alone,” Moreland said. “You’re frantic about being alone for the rest of your life or being with someone who might be embarrassed by you, by your looks.”

Such is the state of Moreland’s latest role as Helen in the Banyan Theater Company’s last show of the summer season, “Fat Pig.” The Neil LaBute play opens 8 p.m. today at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.

In it, Helen is a beautiful, confident, plus-size librarian who begins dating a successful, handsome and fit businessman named Tom, who has a heart of gold.

But when Tom’s friends find out about his new love, his relationship with Helen takes a beating.

Moreland said the situation is too close for comfort.

“I’ve lived some of these scenes that Neil LaBute has actually written,” the actress said. “And I’m not extremely obsessed, but I’m a chunky girl.”

Sam Osheroff, who plays Tom, said his character is having some tough challenges of his own.

“He’s really struggling with the fact that he’s fallen in love with a woman who’s way outside of his range of experience and outside of the world he lives in,” said Osheroff. “He really has to reconcile the fact that he loves this woman and yet can’t figure out how to incorporate her in his actual life.”

How did dating ever get this way? When it comes to the emphasis on physical appearance in our society, the media is mostly to blame, said Osheroff.

From TV to magazines, images of smaller-sized women are featured more than others.

And while weight may or may not be an issue for actors, their overall appearance is important.

“Being in the industry, you know that 99.999 percent of the jobs you get or you don’t get is because of the way you look,” he said. “No matter what you look like, there’s always room for insecurity.”

Moreland, who performed “Fat Pig” in 2007 in Coral Gables, said crowd reaction from the show sparked interesting debates during talk-back sessions with cast members.

Even the show’s title received a few remarks, cast members said.

But the “fat pig” in this show may not be who it appears to be on the surface, said Osheroff, who will appear in several more plays with the Asolo Repertory Theatre next season.

Osheroff is a 2005 graduate of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training.

The play seems perfectly timed to the premiere of the new reality bachelor show on FOX called “More To Love” featuring a group of plus-sized women hoping to find love with an equally plus-sized bachelor.

Moreland, who performed in the Asolo production of “Real Women Have Curves” in 1991, said the show gives big girls a bad name.

“I have a real problem with the whole bachelor/bachelorette thing,” she said. “It’s just not real to me. And each one of the girls I felt horrible for because they seem to say they were OK in their bodies and yet all of their actions did exactly the opposite of what they were saying. It was hard for me to watch because I thought, ‘You guys are better than that.’ ”

published Aug. 6, 2009


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