An online tutor sits atop the couch that doubles as office, dining room and bed. He’s poised in front of the laptop used to communicate with students who only hear his voice, but never see his face. He’s reading a student essay on the famed novel “Moby Dick,”
That’s the set-up for “The Whale,” a play by Samuel D. Hunter that’s being performed through March 1 by Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe. It’s directed by Ron May, founding artistic director for the company, who reveals in the play’s program his own emotional connections to the material.
Loss. Obesity. Addiction. Sexuality. Religion. Family dysfunction. Even the ways we educate our youth. It’s all there in “The Whale,” which Playwrights Horizons of NYC premiered Off-Broadway during the fall of 2012. Take note, teachers and parents. For you, like many others, this is a “must-see” production.
Austin Kiehle (Elder Thomas), Michelle Chin (Ellie) and Johanna Carlisle (Mary) round out this cast, which delivers a gloriously gripping performance.
The production team includes Eric Beeck (scenic design), Ellen Bone (lighting design), Brandon Ehrenreich (property design) and Joey Trahan (sound design). Their work shares important insights about Charlie’s nightmare — and dreams.
“The Whale” sneaks up on you over time, like a giant vice with slowly tightening grip. You won’t realize you’re caught in its jaws until it’s too late. By then, you’ll feel exhilarated — and perfectly satiated by the final squeeze.
THIS IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL REVIEW - READ IT IN ITS ENTIRETY BELOW