The Most Massive Woman Wins: Eating disorder 

Counting calories at The Process' double feature

The dessert is better than the main course at the Process Theatre's The Most Massive Woman Wins, but a food analogy may not be appropriate. Marki Shalloe's 10-minute comedy "Barbie's Dream House" follows Madeleine George's one-act play The Most Massive Woman Wins, and both focus on factors that shape female self-esteem and body image. Massive's insight and intentions may be above reproach, but "Barbie" covers much of the same material with more speed and wit.

Massive begins intriguingly, with four women (played by Francena Byrd, Amy Cain, Kara Cantrell and Stacia Kingston) in the waiting room of a plastic surgeon's office, each anticipating a liposuction treatment. The actresses have drastically different body types, suggesting that "fat" may be a state of mind that most women share. Except for the briefest exchanges, the women never speak to each other, and the play unfolds as a series of monologues, short scenes and cruel schoolyard rhymes that reveal why the women believe that surgery will help them feel better about themselves.

George crafts many sharp, well-observed moments and clever lines, from a rhapsody about binging on sweets to one woman's rhetorical question, "Why does everyone tell me I have beautiful skin?" Cantrell delivers a particularly moving speech about a mother and a daughter, but although the play becomes increasingly serious, it doesn't really go anywhere or build to anything. Its earnestness grows wearying, and, given that it doesn't offer a post-surgical perspective, the liposuction premise seems wasted.

Unrealistic feminine expectations take physical shape in "Barbie's Dream House" when LeeAnna Lambert portrays the famed doll. Two women (Byrd and Cantrell) barge into Barbie's dream house to confront the doll with how bad she makes them feel about themselves. Essentially a 10-minute sketch, "Barbie's Dream House" lacks the ambition of The Most Massive Woman Wins, but also proves more pointed and purposeful.

Delivering lines such as, "All I wanted to do was wear nice clothes and date a boy without a penis," Lambert plays the role to vapid perfection, from stiff gestures to hair-flip. I think my daughter's Barbie even has an identical dress, and given Barbie's long-term effects on the female psyche, perhaps I should throw it away.

The Most Massive Woman Wins. Through March 31. $18-$20. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m. The Process Theatre Co., Whole World Theatre, 1226 Spring St. 404-245-4205.


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