Review: The perfect comedy for the Christmas break – Jean St Clair’s If I Don’t Lose, I’ll Lose!

Posted on December 27, 2014

When a deaf actress Mabel Morgan (Caroline Parker) is forced by her agent to lose weight to get a role, she is faced with a stark life choice. Stay fat and unemployed or lose weight and keep a hearing and thinner actress from getting the role.

If I don’t lose, I’ll lose is actress-turned-director Jean St Claire’s movie making debut and follows a middle-aged deaf woman’s attempts to lose weight. It’s funny. I recommended to my mother.

That scenario comes up occasionally. Not the losing weight part, but hearing actors taking on the roles of deaf people in theatre, TV or film. A recent episode of BBC drama Doctors was an example of where a hearing actress played the part of a deaf teenager, in this case with a cochlear implant based identity dilemma.

When deaf acting talent is overlooked in favour of non-deaf talent, no one wins. There are some fine deaf actors out there who sadly don’t get the opportunities they deserve so to have deaf work taken by hearing talent is irksome, to not just the actors, but also to the audience who appreciate a bit of realism.

In fact, the idea of losing a role to some hearing sign-language upstart drama queen is the major motivation for the central character in this comedy. It was the patronisingly mouthed ‘HELLO, HOW ARE YOU’ accompanied with a wide-eyed thumbs-up during their brief encounter that kick started her attempt to shed the pounds. There was NO WAY a hearie was getting the job.

Caroline Parker 3

Mabel (Caroline Parker) hits the excrcise bike

Her target, except for the hearing actresses’ portrait on the dart board, was a horrendously unrealistic two stones in one month.

That’s equivalent to losing a pound a day for 28 days. It means not eating a single morsel at all and then going for a two hour walk. Every day. For a month. Unrealistic targets are the mark of a failed dieter.

Her ‘mañana’ attitude to weight loss is something that many viewers, caught in the daily weight dilemma, will know well. ‘I’ll have that packet of crisps now and start the diet tomorrow .. until I buy another packet of crisps .. tomorrow.” That’s what makes this good to watch. Anyone who has tried (and failed) to lose weight knows Mabel’s suffering.

Mabel’s urge to dig into the snacks, avoid the vegetables and then daydream about being thinner while eating more crisps gives way, finally, to a concerted weight loss effort. The type that lasts for a day or so.

Can she ‘thin-up’ get the role and keep her hearing nemesis out of work? Is that motivation enough to keep her face out of the fridge for long enough? Or will she just go for a quickie in a bush with the postman?

I won’t ruin the surprise for you but I can say that the film made two points which, in conclusion, are subtly juxtaposed.

  1. Deaf roles should be for deaf actors
  2. Without the right motivation, losing weight is an almost impossible feat.

If I don’t lose, I’ll lose is written and directed by Jean St Clair and is available online on BSL Zone

Andy Palmer is the hearing father of a Deaf son, and is also a child of Deaf parents. He is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s 6th most popular disability blog. 

Make sure you never miss a post by finding out how to follow us, and don’t forget to check out what our supporters provide: 

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.

The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:


Posted in: Andy Palmer, Reviews