Tuesday, January 22, 2013


If one of your New Year's Resolutions is to lose weight and, therefore, improve your self-image, it might be ill advised to see the comedy horror world premiere show at Long Wharf Theatre's Stage II this month.  "January Joiner" by Laura Jacqmin may do more to sabotage your good intentions than to motivate or inspire.

"January Joiner," on tap until Sunday, February 10, refers to the habitual hope that everyone is likely to expereince after New Year's Day, to join a health club and slim down.  This play billed as a Weight Loss Horror Comedy may leave you with a permanent fear of candy- and treat-spewing vending machines and make you scared-straight at the sight of a Twix bar.

When Terry (Ashlie Atkinson) experiences a cardiac incident, she realizes her large size persona needs an adjustment...immediately.  She finds a specialized weight loss spa on the sunny shores of Florida and invites her sister Myrtle (Meredith Holzman) to take this journey with her for support. Both women have had a complicated history with weight because of their mother's unhealthy obsessions. Terry who has never left her Ohio hometown joins her upwardly mobile New York City sis and one other "guest", Darnell or Big D as he wants to be called (Daniel Stewart Sherman) from Minnesota, for the challenging undertaking.

Darnell brags about being "fat proud," this being his eighth trip to the health spa, none of which have left him improved in size or outlook.  Yet he continues to put himself in the charge of the spa's transformational trainers April (Tonya Glanz) and Brian (Anthony Bowden) who want to literally carve away the offending fat.

As Terry swallows the rigorous routine of diet and exercise and little else, she transforms herself so much, into Not-Terry (Maria-Christina Oliveras) that her sibling does not recognize her.  Body weight and self-image are wedded so tightly in our culture that our outside appearance may be the only scale we consider valid.  "January Joiner" challenges our pre-conceptions and cuts to the core of the weight loss issues.  Is thinness a virtue we should worship?  What part does who we are inside matter?  Laura Jacqmin challenges our values in a funny and often bizarrely frightening way. Eric Ting directs this unusual look at outside and inside images of ourselves.

For tickets ($60-70), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Follow two sisters as they travel on a life changing path together, one so intense that they feel like strangers by journey's end.

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