Playwright Frank Gibbs leans on a troubled character to deliver a message of redemption in his new gospel production, "The Weight Is Over," debuting at the United Deliverance Bible Complex Center in Laurel on Saturday, Aug. 31.
The well-to-do Pamela is living a nightmare and there's not enough money in her pocketbook to make it stop. Her marriage is a failure. Marcus, her husband, has revealed himself to be an abusive jerk. All of this drama has caused Pam to develop low self-esteem and gain a few extra pounds.
A turn of events will motivate her to shed the physical pounds, but Pam has no idea that neglecting the emotional weight that she's still attached to has just as large an impact.
It was important for Gibbs to use the spelling of "weight" as opposed to "wait" for the play's title since he wants to drive home the point that carrying emotional baggage is a waste of time and energy. Gibbs has conducted research by reading articles online and in magazines on obesity. The most critical piece of information he came across was an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, which he stumbled upon at a doctor's office. The article opened his eyes to how overeating is just a byproduct of stress. This epiphany hit home to Gibbs as he has loved ones who struggle with their own weight.
"That article I read was the springboard for [this play]," said Gibbs, of Milford. "I said, 'Wow, this was some amazing information.'"
Dover actress Kimberly Lynne, portraying Pam, says there was a time in her life when stress caused her to balloon to 300 pounds. From experience, Lynne knows "losing weight without fixing something on the inside doesn't matter," she said.
In addition to focusing on obesity, Gibbs also sheds light on physical abuse, another touchy subject he didn't want to shy away from in "The Weight Is Over."
"We want to talk about that," the 36-year-old playwright said. "These are harsh realities that actually happen."
But "The Weight Is Over" isn't all serious. A character who adds a few laughs in the show is Carol, a radical Christian who means well, yet can get a bit overzealous.
In one scene, Carol goes to Pam's home to pray away the evil spirits that have caused Pam to grieve. So she arrives with a "great big jug of oil, like Crisco or vegetable oil," Gibbs said.
"In the charismatic churches we believe in using anointing oil. But with the oil, [Carol] takes it to the extreme and she pours it out on [Pam's] head." Gibbs added, "She's doing her own type of exorcism" but "it's nothing serious or spooky with lights going off or candles going off. This is all fun and games."
Page 2 of 2 - The audience that comes to see the show will certainly be entertained, but Gibbs also wants patrons to leave the play knowing their brightest days are ahead, not behind them.
"My catchphrase is 'some things aren't worth the weight,' because sometimes we can be weighed down so much, and if you really look at it, it's not worth it," he said. "We have to learn from our past, but not hold on to it."
IF YOU GO
WHAT 'The Weight Is Over'
WHEN 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31
WHERE United Deliverance Bible Complex Center, 12108 County Seat Highway, Laurel
COST $15 advance; the cost is extra at the door
INFO Visit frankwgibbs.com or call 424-2479