Review: Fat Witch
By Anna Jeavons
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This review was written for mindshare, a creative community and online mental health publication. Reflections are by mindshare writers with lived experience of mental illness, specifically critiquing through a mental health lens. Content may contain triggering themes.
Fat Witch’s star, Sarah, is loud, confident, and endearing. She tells us she loves to perform, and that’s why she’s tucked in the corner of Hidden Brew Taphouse on Ebenezer Place—with a keyboard and portable fan (to minimise boob sweat) as she plays instrumental covers between random jokes and personal anecdotes.
I was really excited for this show. I anticipated insightful political discussions about what it’s like to live in a fat body from someone with personal lived experience. I thought we’d be hearing about discrimination and damaging beauty standards, toxic diet culture, bullying, stigma, and the way all this injustice and awfulness impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
On reflection, perhaps me anticipating tales of woe and oppression from Fat Witch was problematic. Have I exposed myself here? Am I bringing negativity to Sarah’s reality because I hold biases? Was it because the show was listed by the Fringe as containing mental health themes, or do I need to check myself?
Anyway, that’s for me to sit with for now. Sarah did not discuss any of the above. She did share some instances of unwarranted insults in the past, and she told us how she handled them—with impressive and inspiring positivity and sass. And at one point she hinted that her feelings toward her body have changed in recent times. However, the rest of her show was a mish mash of stories from her teaching career, on-the-spot tangents, and pop culture references.
While Sarah clearly has a fun personality and life, and she can definitely tell a story, I am a firm believer that a show does need a lens through which the audience can connect to it. I feel Fat Witch needed more direction and a consistent running theme. I enjoyed the Stars Wars song and cover of Where Is My Mind? but given this production lacked structure and mental health content, it’s just one and a half stars from me.