Damon Dering delivers a phenomenal acting performance in the central role of Stray Cat Theatre’s fascinating “The Whale,” a mesmerizing script about morbid obesity and the need for love.
That’s a terse description of Samuel D. Hunter’s play. There’s much more below the play’s surface when you connect the plot dots together and superimpose the intriguingly complicated central character, Charlie, and what his corpulence tells us about his shattered life and his brushes with love.
The unusual thing about “The Whale” is that the plot sounds somber but the play rings with comic delight as playwright Hunter drops in amusing humor throughout the morose discussion.
Such a bizarre play could be laughable in a less than perfect production but Ron May’s marvelous staging couldn’t be better nor could the characters be more vibrantly crafted. Dering is masterful in his huge fat suit as he ambles about the stage, feeling sorry for himself as he struggles through constant emotional turmoil as he deals with his unreal life. Anne Marie Falvey’s concerned Liz is perfect as she is angered that Charlie is doing this tragic weight thing to himself. Michelle Chin is all immaturity as Charlie’s mouthy daughter, Ellie. Johanna Carlisle delivers Charlie’s ex-wife, Mary, with venom as she bashes Charlie. Austin Kiehle is artful as Elder Thomas, a seemingly normal missionary who’s checked past is revealed by the actor with delicious gusto.
THIS IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL REVIEW - READ IT IN ITS ENTIRETY BELOW
DAMON DERING PHENOMENAL IN STRAY CAT’S FASCINATING “THE WHALE”