Victory Gardens presents the Midwest premiere of THE WHALE. Charlie is fat. He weighs about 600+ pounds. He is stuck -literally- on his couch. And he’s dying of congestive heart failure. His only contact with the outside world are his online writing students and his friend that’s a nurse. Two new people stumble in his living room at his invitation; a mormon and his estranged daughter. Their presence will change everything. THE WHALE is ordinary stories with extraordinary circumstances.
Playwright Samuel D. Hunter penned a relatable tale. His flawed characters are authentic. Their actions are relatable. Their banter is organic reactive. Hunter masterfully intertwines their storylines. The complex connectivity gives human satisfaction with an overarching divine intervention. Under the expert direction of Joanie Schultz, the story is engrossing. In the lead, Dale Calandra (Charlie), in a terrifyingly, natural fat suit by Costume Designer Janice Pytel, is pathetically charming. Calandra’s resignation to his limited life is heart-wrenching. Every time Calandra tries to painfully hoist himself off the couch, I want to go onstage and help him. Every time his daughter Leah Karpel (Ellie) berates him, I want to go onstage and slap her. Calandra endears as an amicable victim. An impressive Karpel infuriates with acid-tongued teenage angst. The father-daughter combination is bittersweet reality. Their interactions, for better or worse, are unforgettable.
Bringing the Mormon zeal and innocence, Will Allan (Elder Thomas) is adorable. Within this sad and dark world, Allan is this unrelenting, hopeful light. Along with a staunch Cheryl Graeff (Liz) and prickly Patricia Kane (Mary), these lives terrifically unfold. Within less than two hours, we see everyone’s past disappointments and regrets. Hunter, Schultz, and the talented cast draw us close and expose the extra burden each character is carrying around. This is an extraordinary story.
“Call me Charlie.”
Running Time: One hour and fifty minutes with no intermission
At Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln
Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Joanie Schultz
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru May 5th
Buy Tickets at www.victorygardens.org