Nice Review of The Whale

This is a really nice review of The Whale – the play I’m doing at the Red Barn Theatre in Key West. This play is about a 600 lb man who is trapped in his apartment and can’t leave. This character and I share so many similarities with our relationship to food. It has been a pretty remarkable journey bringing this character to life. We only have five performances left so if your thinking about see it, get you tickets now.




Summer Stage ends with a fine whale of a show



“The Whale.” by Samuel D. Hunter, Key West Summer Stage’s 2014 finale, is a dark comedy that has something for everyone: Parents, gay partners, rebellious teenagers, nurses, fans of Moby Dick, ex-wives, codependents, college expository writing instructors and a variety of addicts. And it is one whale of a show.

Remaining true to their stated intention to present experimental, cutting-edge drama, the Theatre XP/Summer Stage production of “The Whale” is, joining the season’s successful “’night, Mother” and “Waiting for Godot,” dark and funny, shocking and moving, engaging and (especially Act Two) riveting.

The show, which won a multitude of Off-Broadway awards for both writer and star, is set in present day Idaho, in the apartment of an on-line writing instructor named Charlie, brilliantly and painfully played by comedian Chad Newman, in a maddening and heartbreaking dramatic debut. Charlie has been trying to eat himself to death since the death of his life partner, Allen, some years before; it was for Allen that Charlie left his wife, Mary (a fine, nuanced performance by veteran Tammy Shanley) and toddler daughter Ellie, now apparently a sadistic, insufferable 17-year-old (an excellent acting debut by Julia Tetreault, a young theater techie and Keys Kids veteran).

Enriching the mix are fine performances by veterans Melody Moore as Liz, Charlie’s only friend, and Quincy Perkins as Elder Thomas, a true-believer Mormon missionary. Perkins is Theatre XP/Summer Stage’s co-producer with master-of-all-trades Bob Bowersox, who directs this final production — and when 30-something Perkins, a seasoned theater pro, announces that he is 19 years old, we totally believe him.

“The Whale” raises questions of faith, of food, of fidelity, of fear (or lack of it) of death. Newman, maneuvering well in his fat suit, portrays with painful accuracy a morbidly obese, middle-aged man dying of COPD; his wheeze alone is amazing and totally convincing (and as a person with asthma, I know whereof I speak). Nevertheless, the show draws out-loud laughs at regular intervals and features an ending that forges hope out of an expectation of dismay.

As throughout the summer season, the troupe’s technical staff acquitted themselves well and will no doubt be perfect by opening night; the foundation of that perfection was there, both off stage and on. (Again, we remind you, dear reader, that print deadlines necessitate reviewing the show five days before opening, before the vital tech and dress rehearsals). Stage manager/assistant director/prop person and set dresser Annie Miners worked her usual magic, in this case on a Bowersox-designed set fully inhabited by the beast of clutter. Jules Conn deftly wrangled the light board and Leigh Hooten handled costumes — including creating that remarkable fat suit.

All in all, “The Whale” is a fitting finale to a fine summer season. It will be interesting to see what challenging dramas they come up with for 2015.

Link to Review:

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