Fat Girl Follies
On the Boards, 217-9888.
Through Aug 26.

Despite its comic veneer, this performance is startlingly serious and marks a departure for Platt, long known in Seattle for her hilarious, spoofy sketches and uncanny improvisational ability. In her Christmas-season revues over the past decade or so with Dos Fallopia stage partner Lisa Koch, and in The Holiday Survival Game Show, Platt has often made off-the-cuff and casual references to her large size. But Fat Girl Follies, with its direct address to the audience and autobiographical monologues, takes the topic of women and weight head-on.

The show is raw, personal, and sometimes difficult, as Platt and co-performers Kelly Wright and Tove Hansen discuss what it's like to be fat in a society hypnotized by thinness to the point of absurdity. We get a small taste of the anger, frustration, and indignation fat brings in this culture; painful emotions ricochet from Platt's monologues and opening rap, "Big Fat Woman," a song so moving and liberating it should probably be released as a single.

Slides of Rubenesque beauties adorn the stage as Platt and company alternate between songs, a hilarious TV talk-show spoof, and a wrenching stomach-stapling skit (Hansen is hilarious as a bitchy German nurse). The Platt you'll see in this show is different than the million-gags-a-minute satirist to which fans are accustomed; this show is really a kind of stage essay about female body image, injustice, despair, and loving oneself. It takes an exceedingly vulnerable turn as Platt, at the most open we've seen her onstage, puts questions out to the world, both straightforward and veiled.

The flip side of this show is its loose presentation. Platt and her collaborators address their concerns conversationally, rather than weaving a tight performance for the audience to interpret. For me, the latter is usually more powerful. But local audiences know Platt so well that Fat Girl Follies still works wonderfully, and is guaranteed to open its viewers' eyes. STACEY LEVINE

7 Blondes

Greg Thompson Productions
at the Crepe de Paris, 623-4111. Through Sept 30.

You've noticed Greg Thompson Productions' bewildering brown compound while driving on Elliott Avenue. "Wild West Show! Harrah's! Las Vegas!" luridly and inexplicably emblazoned on the ever-changing sign. You've wondered what was going on behind those high walls--doomsday cult? Prop shop? Strip club? The truth is worse: Try all three.

Don't take my word for it. Satisfy your own morbid curiosity by attending 7 Blondes, the new Greg Thompson Production at Crepe de Paris. The premise seems promising: A blond lady with big, fake boobs impersonates a bunch of other blond ladies with big, fake boobs. The press kit breathlessly describes the revue as "a cross between A&E's Biography and the ultimate drag show." The reality is more like the ultimate drag.

Let's start with the set: Think Victoria's Secret dressing room hewn out of Styrofoam and spray-painted gold. Now let's introduce the star of the show--Sunny, a tiny, tanned blonde of a certain age with all the charm of an aerobics instructor. Now force the poor thing to stand in front of a huge video screen and sing along to footage of Marilyn, Britney, Madonna, and Dolly. To say that she pales before the originals is an understatement.

But these silly karaoke-esque warblings are merely an excuse for the painfully weird second half of the show, in which Sunny spills her own life story into the laps of the unsuspecting, crepe-consuming audience. Her operatic training, her gold records in Ecuador, and her storybook wedding (to Greg Thompson, of course!) are accompanied with a clumsy video montage and still more proficient but soulless singing. It is tragically apparent that this entire show and perhaps poor Sunny herself are merely three-dimensional advertisements for the vacuous schlock that Greg Thompson parades upon the slick stages of casinos and cruise ships. Who knew the horror that lurked behind those fortress walls? TAMARA PARIS

Gate 17

Disgruntled Bit Players at the Union Garage,
729-4839. Through Aug 18.

An air traveler heading to a rubber-catheter convention, a pilot named "Sloppy," and a frequent-flyer's airport club where members receive oral sex from eager hospitality hosts--the Disgruntled Bit Players seem to have no problem coming up with weird, funny sketch ideas, and this comedy set in an airport surprised me with its smooth staging, wit, and verve. Many of this troupe's members were last seen in Union Garage's Choose Your Own Adventure, including seriously talented comic performers Val Bush, Evan Mosher, and Jeremy Young, all of whom can do nicely detailed character parody. (Mosher's porn-buying Chicagoan business traveler is a hoot.)

There's no complicating plot development here, which is well and good; the piece does well to rely solely upon the performers, physical comedy, and strong sketch concepts. Props are nice and spare, though the fact that the actors are all clad in bunchy, identical "DBP" T-shirts led me to believe they had just come from a weekend at some fundamentalist Christian camp.

After a hilarious opening movement/dance number, the goofy sequence of skits begins to unspool, set in a Sea-Tac airport that's familiar but turned on its head. A couple greeting each other at the gate embrace, kiss, then fall on the floor, copulating. A "mammogram" is delivered to an air traveler, who reads the message by carefully palpating a pair of plastic breasts buckled onto the messenger. The mayor greets travelers over the PA system: "I'm Paul Schell. Don't hit me." Many of the sketches are bizarre and original enough to make you say, "Why haven't I thought of that?" Gate 17 isn't deeply meaningful, but its parody and performances are dead-on. STACEY LEVINE