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Many people would consider the problem of being overweight as funny. Some would even consider attempts at slimming a great cause for amusement. Playright Charles Laurence is clearly among them, by in "My Fat Friend" he is also very careful not to offend those to whom it is a touchy subject.

He even goes as far as involving in his comedy a character who believes "big is beautiful", but that comes more as a compensation than as a reason for being on the large side.

It is therefore in the central figure of Vicky that he explores and investigates, "weighing" up every conceivable difficulty.

In the Falcon Players' production of this interesting comedy at Stanford Hall last week, the part of Vicky was taken by Sue Webster. It was by no means an easy role, or comfortable for the most part, but Sue's chirpy manner gave the character believability and sympathy.

Though there were numerous jokes at her expense-principally from "bent" lodger Henry, but also from the butcher, who thought her "well upholstered" - Vicky is shown as a determined young lady, not easily put down and not easily defeated. Aware of the situation and embarrassed by it, but not resigned to a life of being fat.

When dashing young geologist Tom comes along, but then flies off to Iran after a night of passion, Vicky, egged on by both Henry and second lodger James, embarks on a crash course in slimming.

She is successful too, but to leave the story at that would be cheating. Instead, Tom returns, finds the trim-line Vicky - and leaves again. There is hope left in the world, you can hear Charles Laurence telling us. Do not despair, oh fleshy people, somebody loves you!

"My Fat Friend" is a modern comedy, unmistakably modern. Stuart Bailey, as Henry, did not camp the part up too much, thank goodness, for homosexuals, like fat people must be getting fed up of being figures of fun.

The Falcon Players have shown in the past that they are adept at comedy. This was one of their less riotous choices, certainly not on the farcical lines of the last few productions, but still funny enough to keep the audiences amused and involved.

It had a rather slow start, but soon picked up, enabling the cast of four to develop their respective characters. Sue Webster and Stuart Bailey held the stage between them really, but Christopher Marlowe, as James, and John Baker as Tom, added normality.

The Players have again chosen comedy for their next production, Lord Arthur Saville's "Crime", which will be presented from May 18th-21st.

Loughborough Echo