Friday, 7 November 2003

Filler Up, Nov 7, 2003

Filler Up  
written by Deb Filler  and Lowry Marshall  
Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre Nov 7 to Nov 16, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 7, 2003
Published in Herald Sun, Melbourne, Nov 2003

Deb Filler's solo comedy show, Filler Up, may not quite fill up the Fairfax Studio but it is a diverting and engaging performance..

Filler tells her personal story with charm and vigour. Her story taker us from her family home in New Zealand to her adopted home in Manhattan. This gentle ride begins in her Holocaust survivor father's Jewish bakery in New Zealand where he bakes challah,  the traditional Sabbath bread.

Her great gimmick is that she prepares and bakes a loaf of challah on stage as we watch and salivate at the aroma of baking bread. She even feeds it to us as a finale. She peoples the stage with a parade of eccentric characters. The most successful moments belong to the boldest and broadest characterisations.

Her Aunt Vippy in New York is hilarious. Vippy is big, smy-voiced and open-hearted and Filler portrays her with love. Her eating disorder therapy group is also a hit as she transforms from Mindy Feldman, her twitchy Manhattan therapist, into various idiosyncratic over -eaters.

She plays her well-meaning but critical mother, her dizzy sister, grandmother, father, all her ex-boyfriends and girlfriends and a Greek chef at a diet spa. She sings songs with acoustic guitar, tells of her obsession with her weight, her journey into discovery of her lesbianism, her joy and despair at her demanding family. And always Dad's baking is in the background tempting her - and us.

The show is funny and at moments poignant as she talks about her father's recent death and his baking of bread in the concentration camp during the war. There are scenes that need tightening and the show could be a little shorter. Filler rattles around in this to large space but becomes more comfortable as she and the audience warm up.

This is identification theatre in a way, for all those who worry about their weight, sexuality - or perhaps just for those who crave a trip to New York and a loaf of Challah.

By Kate Herbert

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