‘The Good Body’ resonates with viewers

Eve Ensler (Megan Ort) is every woman that has gone to the gym in order to lose that food baby. She is every woman who has picked up a Cosmopolitan or Seventeen magazine from the aisles of the grocery store, comparing herself to the Hillary Duffs or Kristen Stewarts or the other airbrushed celebrity cover girls. She is every woman who has attended a “fat camp” or a Weight Watchers meeting because she thinks she’s too fat. Eve is every woman who has been tempted by the apple of liposuction, obsessed with what she calls, “a relationship with her stomach.”

In modern society, Eve defines, to be good translates to being thin and perfect. Eve Ensler symbolizes Everywoman, struggling to be “good” in an imperfect world. Perhaps this is what made the play “The Good Body” so appealing to the 70-plus Ithaca College students who attended the showing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 in Textor 101.

“The Good Body,” directed by freshman Ithaca College drama major Pascale Florestal, can be compared to a non-musical and hour-long rendition of Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango,” as various characters recount their trials with their bodies. The play, a sequel to Eve Ensler’s ever-popular “Vagina Monologues” was smartly written and well performed by a cast of nine freshman Ithaca College students, revealing their struggles with weight and sex through a series of monologues.

Although there weren’t many props or visual action, and a white-board accompanied the found space in a lecture hall, the audience was very responsive to the narrative-style play. Like in the fifteenth century play “Everyman” following a character’s journey to morality, “The Good Body” follows a similar format as the character Eve embodies Everywoman on a journey to acceptance. Along the way, she meets a cast of funny and memorable characters including “Skinny Bitches” Bernice, “Spread” Carmen, “Perfection” Tiffany, “Dyke Fuck You” Dana, “Sex” Carol, “Breasts” Nina,  “The Industry” Isabella and “Jadhi” Priya. The women’s names and stories were written on the classroom’s giant white-boards as each character exited the stage.

Meanwhile, the audience, made up of a demographic of two men to every seven women, seemed very receptive to the stories and themes of “The Good Body.”

Audience members laughed when Jazzmin Bonner’s character Bernice, played a black girl at fat camp, wagging her finger at “skinny bitches” and compared buying plus-sized clothing to buying porn.

Girls held their breath as Kristen Joyce’s character Carmen, a Latino skinny girl obsessed with what she describes as the “spread” between her thighs, said, “All those years I just want to be pretty, Mommy. Why couldn’t you ever see that?”

A few women pulled tissues out of their purses and wiped their tears as Alyssa Stoeckl’s character Nina gave an emotional testimony about what it was like to develop breasts while losing her freedom in the process.

Meanwhile, Director Florestal herself played an Indian Confucius, telling Ort’s character to accept her body because it is her home. Florestal’s character Priya who describes herself as “Jadhi,” the Indian word for fat, said that her husband Kumar loved her body’s oceans and continents. “If you were to lose your ‘Jadhi,’ I would be a refugee,” Florestal described her husband saying.

Following the stories of these women, one learns that one should love their bodies for what they are. However, the superb performance and expression of Megan Ort and the rest of the girls on the cast gave the performance much more resonance with the audience. “The Good Body’s” sad but poignant message, witty monologues and powerful deliverance made the play much more effective and most satisfying for anyone who has ever thought they were fat.

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