Written by Joseph Skelton and directed by Luke Davies, Fat Jewels isn’t your average play about ‘male bonding’. Following a long conversation in the pub, family friend Danny (Robert Walters) brings young Pat home so they can have a few bevvies and finish off their food from the chip shop. Pat (Hugh Train) is chuffed at having someone to spend time with and is eager to please. Having someone to confide in about his bad dreams takes a weight take off Pat’s shoulders. However, Danny doesn’t want Pat to leave his flat and thinks they should work on their ‘therapy’ together to deal with Pat’s ‘pent-up aggression’…
From the off, the audience senses there’s something not quite ‘right’ with the ‘scenario’ and having guessed quite early on what was about to transpire, I confess I was more than a little ‘uncomfortable’ throughout.
While it’s obvious that Danny has an agenda and Pat’s trusting nature makes him vulnerable, it’s also very noticeable that Danny has unresolved issues of his own and that his ‘techniques’ are really for his benefit. The play shows how two men are ill-equipped for life. Not from an academic or monetary perspective – though that’s certainly a factor – but because of the absence of meaningful relationships in their lives who would look out for their best interests.
Train gives a very committed performance as Pat, the sweat (the ‘fat jewels’) that the character sheds during his antics – all genuine, as the audience succumbs to the heat too. Of course ‘fat jewels’ has other meanings in the play – the nickname Dan gave Pat’s mother when they were at school and ‘sweat’ as the unsightly part of oneself that can’t be hidden…
‘Danny’ as a character is manipulative, using ‘gaslighting’ to get around Pat’s reservations. Walters, however, imbues the character with some ‘understandable’ qualities which are more apparent when the full facts of Danny’s past come to light.
The play’s visceral denouement is guaranteed to indelibly stay with the audience, but from the ‘shattering’ of the past, the men find the wherewithal to start over and move forward.
© Michael Davis 2018
Fat Jewels runs at the Hope Theatre, London until 21st July.