Thursday, February 20, 2014

theatre review THE WHALE, Stray Cat Theatre, February 14

Anne Marie Falvey and Damon Dering
Click here to read my full review at Talkin' Broadway of The Whale at Stray Cat Theatre.

"Samuel Hunter's play The Whale is the tale of a whale of a man, the morbidly obese Charlie, who is literally eating himself to death, and it seems only has a few days left to live. But Charlie and the other four characters we meet in this play aren't at all what they first appear to be. By the end of the play we realize that there is a true sense of beauty and strength inside the sadness of Charlie's oversized and weak exterior. Hunter's play is receiving its Arizona premiere in a thought-provoking production at Stray Cat Theatre with a heartfelt, courageous and emotionally beautiful performance by Damon Dering as Charlie.

There are many things woven throughout The Whale, including references to the aforementioned novel "Moby Dick" and the Bible story of "Jonah and the Whale" as well as a keen sense of urgency to get answers to questions and sew up estranged relationships. It covers issues between children and parents, the high price of over eating, and the high cost of health care, how religion is sometimes detrimental to a person's existence and can result in self-hatred as well as how gay couples are still frowned upon by certain people. But in many ways it is ultimately a play about honesty and the need to get people to think and state the truth as a way to truly connect to others. When Elder Thomas tells Liz that Charlie has asked him to tell him about the Mormon Church, Liz says that Charlie is a round peg in a square hole, he just doesn't fit in the Mormon Church. Every character in this play is a round peg unable to fit in the square hole of the world they should belong to. In many ways, these five dysfunctional individuals are all somewhat beached whales in how they are disconnected, cut-off and removed from the worlds they came from and how Charlie attempts to help them find a way to get back to a better place before his life is over. The Whale is a stunning, hypnotic play and the Stray Cat Theatre production is superb with perfect direction, an excellent cast and a mesmerizing performance by Damon Dering. It is a performance, a character and a play you won't soon forget." 

The Whale at the Stray Cat Theatre runs through March 1st with performances at the Tempe Performing Arts Center, 132 E. 6th Street in Tempe. Tickets can be ordered by calling 480 227-1766 or at

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