Vicky, who runs a bookshop, is overweight. She suffers, good humouredly enough, the negative remarks of the two characters who share her home next to the shop: James, a Scottish youth who works as an au pair, and Henry, a not-so-young gay man. When a customer—a handsome man of thirty—seems attracted to her, she resolves to lose weight. Aided by her two friends, hard exercise, diet and a graph, she manages to reduce to a streamlined version of her former self—only to find that it was her rotundity that attracted the handsome book buyer in the first place. When, on his return, he finds himself confronted by a slim young woman, his disappointment is only too apparent. Vicky is left alone once more, to be consoled by Henry.
The play was first presented at the Globe Theatre, London in December 1972 starring Kenneth Williams and Jennie Linden. The play was an instant success. The play opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York in March 1974 with Lynn Redgrave, John Lithgow and George Rose. Other productions have taken place throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, and in Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, France, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Portugal, Canada, Greece, and Belgium. A tour of the Middle and Far East included Jordan, Egypt, Dubai, Oman, Singapore, South Korea, Guam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Last year there were successful revivals of the play in Hannover and in Mexico City. More recently, productions have taken place in Pretoria, South Africa and Madrid.