LOGAN — Size Matters is a one-man show performed by the author that tackles body issues and bullying using comedy and honesty from a male perspective. Author and star Ray McAnally puts himself in the vulnerable spotlight figuratively and literally as he tackles the issues of being overweight in the world of love, comedy, and performing arts. The topic is something that I am also not a stranger to, so I was very interested to see how this show would progress. McAnally has a background in stage and screen, having starred in popular television shows such as Black Mirror, Chicago Fire, and 30 Rock, and many stage shows across the country. He is a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild. He uses the opportunity of this show to explore his own issues with body image and his own experience as an uncle, mentor, fiance, husband, lover, and self.
The stage is simply set with two screens for projection, a chair, and a table with a portfolio, a water bottle, and a few simple props. As McAnally progresses through the show, which lasts slightly over an hour, he projects a few pictures from throughout his life experiences: images of himself at different auditions, images of his adorable nephew, and images of him and his wife at their wedding.
McAnally has a great way of commanding the attention of a crowd. He knows how to break for the laughter of an audience and to balance both humor and stories of interest and depth. McAnally spends a lot of time discussing how when going on an audition, the description of a character is given, and then it’s up to the one auditioning to know their type and to fit into that role for the audition. As an overweight man, McAnally is given a particular set of characters to play that he feels ware not necessarily him, but those characters become an expectation of him because of his size. He speaks of the admonition to know your type while also expressing the confusion of never really getting to know yourself because of the expectation to fit into the box of the type that you get thrown into.
I find this whole portrayal an interesting and thought-provoking piece of theatrical work. It is at once a one-man discussion of experience that is well done and full of humor and antidotes and is also indicative of the industry at large. McAnally jokes about not fitting on a plane, which is why he married a skinny wife, and he describes how shows like King of Queens gave him hope growing up. There have been many arguments about how the reverse is not true: a thin man with a larger woman is not seen, with the rare Hairspray-type exception. Recently in my own theatre critiquing, I have noticed a trend of types, such as Ursula or other roles, that normally have gone to more plump women going to more fit women, which may indicate that character types may be changing. Whether the change is good or bad is the question at large.
At the end of McAnally’s show, he describes that as he changed his own mind set, for himself and for his nephew, he noticed that his own character type changed even in his auditions. He was able to read for different parts, parts he never thought he could read for before, such as a boyfriend or the business owner. I appreciate his vulnerability during the show, particularly when he described how he slipped into a depression after his wife had to leave for a few months and how he gained back much of the weight he had lost. His performance of showing both his own depression and also the disappointment of his nephew shows a great deal of acting skill on his part.
A one-man show is a complicated feat to pull off. While McAnally certainly tells some touching stories and gives insight into the world of the life of an overweight actor, this production belongs more in the world of a stand-up comedy festival or one-man comedy special rather than in a theatre festival. The elements from director Ed Stern or from lighting designer Matthew J Fick that I have seen from the other productions at the Lyric this season that audiences have come to know were not as present in this show. Though the evening was enjoyable and the show endearing and entertaining, the classification would be more fitting as a stand-up comedic performance rather than a one-man theatrical show. As an honest and thought-provoking comedic performance, Size Matters is one of the most unique experiences available today.