Calgary Fringe – Fat Sex! – Review

Fat sex


Fat Sex! Steve Larkin’s body….of poems and songs!

August 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9, 2013

Lolita’s Lounge


Ladies and Gentleman, the winner of this year’s most misleading Fringe Festival poster by a landslide victory goes to: Fat Sex! Steve Larkin’s body…..of poems and songs! As seen above, the image promoting Larkin’s performance features a sexy woman’s body and Larkin’s own goofy-faced head on top. Put that image together with a title like Fat Sex! and it isn’t a stretch to assume that this show is a bawdy, intended or ironically misogynist look at all things sexual and corporeal. First glance for me with this kind of build-up and ‘no thanks’ are the words that come to mind.

But wait, take the time to go online and read the description of the show and you’ll see review quotes that claim the content is subversive and will be enjoyed by lovers of classic literary forms. Take the time to Google Larkin and you’ll find that he is a spoken word artist, poet, performer, musician, university lecturer, 2004 “International Poetry Slam Champion” and nominee for Oxford Professor of Poetry. Huh? How do all these notable accomplishments square with the impression of the show Larkin is promoting? The answer is it doesn’t.

Fat Sex! is just one of about 6 pieces of performance poetry Larkin delivers(some with musical accompaniment) in this fifty-five minute set. Turns out the eponymous poem is really an astute observation on how women’s magazines bully females into obsessing about weight and how they aren’t having good enough or regular enough or hot enough sex. Larkin brings his perceptive way of thinking and deliciously wordy ways of communicating to this and his other pieces, making Fat Sex! quite the opposite of what is gleaned on first impression.

During the show we hear a poem commissioned by the British government where Larkin encourages “old codgers” to exercise and “dodge the coffin”. There’s a wonderfully moving song piece called ‘Ape’ where Larkin takes on the persona of an orangutan lashing out at humans for their mistreatment. Probably the most interesting of the lot is a political poem called ‘Post-Colonial Global Blues’ that tackles everything from disenfranchisement to fast food.

While not all of Larkin’s poetry/songs get enthusiastic applause from the crowd, there is no doubt that behind each piece is a sharp, engaged and witty mind. Performance-wise, I found Larkin’s often scream-like volume to be too much at times and his insistence on crowd participation a bit forced. His poetry does call out for performance, and he certainly gives it his all, working hard to bring each piece to vivid life. At the end of the show however, it was not the delivery that intrigued me, but rather the words themselves which I might have been happier to read by myself without all the hoopla that comes along with it in this performance.



For Fringeaholics – This show comes down to a taste thing. Do you like loud, in your face performance poetry? Do you like your poetry social and political? If so, then yes, this is a great Fringe show to see. If not, then maybe take a pass. MAYBE SEE IT

For light Fringers – Well, first of all, know what this show is really all about before you grab a ticket. Then decide if a partially funny but mostly satirical or serious performance poetry cabaret show is one of the few shows you see with so many other great performances out there. MAYBE SEE IT

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