“I think if women actually had a sense of what we are, they would run screaming,” says Neil LaBute. The playwright has been churning out clean-cut 30-year-old characters with evil in their hearts for stage (The Mercy Seat, The Distance From Here) and screen (In the Company of Men, Your Friends & Neighbors) at a fast clip these past few years. This new season, we’ll get the latest misanthropic tale: Fat Pig, at the Lucille Lortel.
The title character is an obese movie-buff librarian whose relationship with an adoring but weak man is doomed from the moment they meet cute over rice pudding. They’re brought low by an office menace named Carter. “I don’t think he’s a conventional asshole,” LaBute says in the bully’s defense. Sure, Carter torments Tom over his “circus” romance, but, LaBute notes, “he’s not malicious. He has some of the wiser things to say—like, ‘Hey, go be with her if you want, but I couldn’t do it.’ ”
In person, LaBute sounds more wise than malicious. “I’ve always been interested in relationships,” he says earnestly. “My job is to take a close-knit, unassuming group and start a fight.”
Fat Pig, Lucille Lortel Theater; previews November 17, opens December 9.