Raymond McAnally really fills the stage in his one-man play, “Size Matters.” And I don’t intend that as a crack about his weight. In the autobiographical work, which is making its East Coast debut at the Hamilton Stage in Rahway through Nov. 22, he brings several characters to vivid life, uses video cleverly and effectively executes some uninhibited physical comedy.
McAnally, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers, decided to focus, in his first full-length play to be produced, on his experiences as an overweight actor, constantly having to audition for roles — in plays, movies, TV shows or commercials — where they’re looking for a “Kevin James type,” or someone to play a crazed, shirtless, buffoonish fan at a football game. “During Super Bowl season, I get asked to take my shirt off more than a Victoria’s Secret model,” he laments.
It’s all a little soul-deadening. “When will I get to play me?” he asks.
“Size Matters” starts off with the acting experiences, but soon veers off in a more personal direction, as McAnally talks about (and impersonates) his parents, his wife and, especially, his nephew, Morgan, who is also overweight, and being bullied at school. The relationship with Morgan is actually the central one in the play.
It’s a touching relationship, with McAnally, fully aware that Morgan sees him as a role model, becoming a sort of father figure. He feels guilty when he can’t do things, like keep weight off once he’s lost it, that would inspire Morgan.
But the dialogue, as McAnally relates various conversations, is a little too cute. Everything Morgan says is either funny or adorable (or both), and McAnally always seems to have the perfect wry response.
I don’t doubt that McAnally conveys the essence of their relationship, and certainly, his writing keeps the play moving along in an entertaining way. But the conversations often didn’t feel like real conversations to me, and that was distracting in a play that aims to get at some really deep truths.
“Size Matters” will be at the Hamilton Stage of the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, Nov. 20-22 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $35; visit ucpac.org.