The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)

broadwaybelter
Broadway Legend
joined:11/26/04
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/17/12 at 01:41pm
Anyone see this yet?
defyingravity11
Broadway Legend
joined:2/26/06
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/18/12 at 10:03am
I grabbed a rush ticket last night and I'm so glad that I did. Sam Hunter has written a very special play and Shuler Hensley is giving another wonderful performance. I hesitate to say too much, but Hunter has bitten off some complex and taboo issues and he handles them beautifully. He breaks your heart over and over for two hours (no intermission) and makes you question preconceived notions of every character onstage.

It looks like most performances are already sold out, so I would definitely hurry to purchase tickets if you have any interest.
"In theater, the process of it is the experience. Everyone goes through the process, and everyone has the experience together. It doesn't last - only in people's memories and in their hearts. That's the beauty and sadness of it. But that's life - beauty and the sadness. And that is why theater is life." - Sherie Rene Scott
jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 12:30am
What taboo issues? Thinking of taking my teenager- would that be a mistake?
defyingravity11
Broadway Legend
joined:2/26/06
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 12:44am
No harm in taking a teenager. I meant taboo issues for the theater. For instance, I can't remember the last time I read or saw a play that tackled morbid obesity.
"In theater, the process of it is the experience. Everyone goes through the process, and everyone has the experience together. It doesn't last - only in people's memories and in their hearts. That's the beauty and sadness of it. But that's life - beauty and the sadness. And that is why theater is life." - Sherie Rene Scott
bwayfan7000
Broadway Legend
joined:3/28/09
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 12:44am
It is certainly a great play and production. I agree with everything defyingravity11 had to say about it.
"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos."-Stephen Sondheim
jbm2
Broadway Star
joined:3/26/11
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 12:52am
I have to be honest- I am a little Leary of Playwrights Horizon since I saw Go Back to Where you Are last year. I heard great things about it- and I thought it was AWFUL.
PatrickDennis92
Understudy
joined:9/25/12
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 09:30am
I think it's hard for plays to discuss morbid obesity because there is certainly a lack of morbidly obese stage actors working, especially in New York. And I don't mean that there are none, but there are very few. I saw a play a year or two ago at the Minetta Lane where one of the characters was morbidly obese, and it was part of the story, but no one made fun of her or really drew much attention to it. I actually loved that play, though many others hated it. I remember thinking it was really interesting to have this very large person on stage and *not* having them be subjected to fat jokes the whole time. It was, pardon the expression, kind of like the "elephant in the room". But I can't remember the name of the play because it ran for such a short time.
WithoutATrace
Broadway Legend
joined:11/27/04
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 10:16am
"I saw a play a year or two ago at the Minetta Lane where one of the characters was morbidly obese, and it was part of the story"

Was it TRICKS THE DEVIL TAUGHT ME?
PatrickDennis92
Understudy
joined:9/25/12
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/19/12 at 12:58pm
Yes, that was it. There was a morbidly obese woman in that show who needed help getting up every time she sat down, etc. It was the first time I'd seen something like that on stage in New York, without someone wearing a suit of some kind.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/20/12 at 01:08am
I saw this show tonight, and I liked it, but didn't love it.

It's an interesting little play and a lot of ideas are sort of discussed and tossed about. It's actually not really about him being morbidly obese. Sure, that's an issue, but it's not a play about being fat, for lack of a better phrase. There's a lot of allusion to Moby Dick and Jonah and The Whale, etc. It gets a little muddled at the end, and the ending was a bit of a let down. There's a secret revealed, and I just didn't find the big "reveal" to be anything all that important.

I thought overall it was solid, and Shuler Hensley is ASTOUNDING. He's giving such great work. The body suit he wears could use some work. That 600lb man had a pretty darn firm ass. That's the only time when it was super obvious it was a costume, when he was walking away. And it's interesting they didn't make his face fat. It looks a little weird, but eventually you sort of forget about it and don't care.

I didn't care much for the nurse friend. Her acting just didn't seem grounded. I didn't get a sense that they were good friends and a lot of her outbursts did not seem grounded. The daughter was a little weird, but she sort of grew on me. Overall, I'd recommend it.

At least it's not another play about 4 people sitting in a room debating "hot button" issues.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/20/12 at 04:57pm
I saw The Whale this afternoon and really liked it.

I echo RippedMan's thought that thank goodness we were given a modern play that wasn't an "issue" play featuring two white suburbanite couples. I thought the writing was strong, realistic and never boring.

I don't know how the hell Shuler Hensley is giving this performance, but if you are a fan of bravura performances his is simply 100% unmissable.

I liked the nurse friend as well the daughter, who by the end made all her choices earlier the play make perfect sense. I admit bias because I know Cory Michael Smith, but he gives a sincere performance as a Mormon missionary.

I was moved by the last 10 minutes or so, and several other audience members shed some tears. I recommend it.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/22/12 at 12:26am
Agreed. Wish something like this would move to Broadway, but I realize it isn't "big enough" for a Broadway space.

Nods to the design as well. Loved the evocative 'waves' on the side of the set.
April Saul
Broadway Legend
joined:2/17/06
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/22/12 at 12:27am
Wow! Saw it tonight and was so impressed. Moved to tears at the end, leapt up to give the actors a well-deserved ovation, and stuck around to congratulate them as well as the playwright. Hensley was superb.

Coincidentally, I caught Detroit earlier in the day and while it was okay, I felt that Whale beat it by a mile. Don't miss it.
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 10/22/12 at 11:38am
"...I can't remember the last time I read or saw a play that tackled morbid obesity."

There was Albert Innaurato's The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie, but that was like 1977 or so.
ChanceEncounter
Stand-by
joined:7/7/12
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/5/12 at 02:53am
Saw it on Halloween for $10 (they were selling all seats cheap in the wake of Sandy) and it was astonishing. Shuler Hensley was a revelation (I'm pretty sure the only other thing I've seen him in was ...Trailer Park Musical). It's definitely a Tony worthy performance he's giving. I had some problems with a couple supporting performers at times. The woman playing Liz had moments where her performance took me out of the moment (then again she had moments that were really powerful as well). And the actress playing the daughter had some really off-putting tendencies. I realized as the show went on it was probably character things, and the direction, but the fact that she would, almost without fail, say her lines without looking at anyone, and then after she was done speaking, look at the other character.

Funny thing also happened, apparently during the downtime from the storm a mouse moved in to the set and made several appearances during the performance. It was not part of the show but given state of the main character's life it worked tremendously well.
dexter3
Stand-by
joined:9/13/08
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/5/12 at 04:37pm
I want to echo the sentiments in this thread.

This show is really well written + performed. If you get a chance you must see it. I don't think it will transfer anywhere because of the subject matter (it's just not commercial) so, you have got to see this amazing cast before it closes.
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/5/12 at 04:45pm
Saw it a few weeks back. It's very strong; it drags in points and some scenes feel too long and superfluous, but overall it's very effective. Hensley is so exceptional and the last fifteen minutes or so are extremely, extremely moving. Absolutely worth catching, if you can.
Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
walkedthroughmany
Leading Actor
joined:3/25/07
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/5/12 at 11:27pm
Mostly echoes: Hensley is unmissable, the play is great but not excellent. I also loved the actress who played the mother.
broadwaybelter
Broadway Legend
joined:11/26/04
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/6/12 at 12:24am
I must chime in as well. I saw this last night and was moved to tears. I've been familiar with the text for a while, but, Shuler Hensley is heart breaking as Charlie. Everyone must see this play.
aaronb
Broadway Star
joined:6/3/12
The Whale (Playwrights Horizons)
Posted: 11/6/12 at 09:15am
Not crazy about the play itself, but Shuler Hensley was incredible. You can read my review here: http://scribicide.com/2012/11/05/a-monstrous-fable/
Check out my theater blog, http://www.scribicide.com