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No flab on this weighty drama

AT the Easi-Slim diet clinic, you could win a complimentary pen. Lose enough weight, and you could bag yourself a free lifetime membership. Pam lost four stone last year.

She's new to Clones, and she probably doesn't need to keep showing up to the weekly meetings. But the well-to-do mum of two, who attends glamorous galas with her husband, Austin, loves the attention. She's also stumbled upon a project.

That project is Breda – a traditional family woman with a fondness for wine and box sets (the complete antithesis of her posh new friend, basically).

Breda is struggling to lose even a single pound, so it's up to Pam to introduce her to the fun-free world of power-walking and steamed fish. This is the set-up in novelist-turned-playwright Ger Gallagher's first play, Weighing-In, a breezy, old-fashioned comedy that, though crammed with cliches, is a genuinely amusing two-hander.

In just over 60 minutes we get to know Pam (Isobel Mahon) and Breda (Rose Henderson) as they swap tales of happy families and avoid meals on their evening walks together.

They grow close. Pam keeps a calculator in her pocket, mindful of the number of calories in everything that passes her lips. Breda idolises her new coach, and though she misses her Friday night take-away, she is astounded at the pounds she loses with Pam's help.

Eventually, talk turns to redundancies (Pam's husband fires people for a living) and emigration, but Weighing-In always remembers to keep things humorous.


Is Pam's desirable lifestyle everything it's cracked up to be? Will her husband ruin everything for the town? Will Breda come to realise she was already happy?

It's all very predictable and sitcom-like, but it's never boring, and there's a strong chemistry between Henderson and Mahon. The latter might be advised to brush up on her lines, but there's nothing wrong with this pair's comic timing (Henderson's stretches before her 'walk' are hilarious).

It's a tiny production, but the performers go beyond the call of duty (Mahon almost always plays up to the audience).

Weighing-In is also at its best when pulling apart the obsession with weight-loss and the world of the diet clinic, where the Leader spouts inane one-liners ("fridge pickers wear bigger knickers").


Running until February 22