Review: The Whale

I was lucky enough to see and review this incredible piece of theatre back in May. Apologies for missing the boat on re-posting my review for Bristol 24/7, but here it is:

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Shuler Hensley as Charlie. Pic: Simon Annand

As an adult, it is genuinely rare to sit in a theatre and utterly believe. But Shuler Hensley’s performance in The Whale is perhaps the most visceral, convincing, immersive depiction I have ever seen, on any stage. This is one powerful piece of theatre, with award-winning performances from a cast giving their all, in a completely engaging world.

Charlie (Hensley) is not just obese, but morbidly so. The kind of  “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape“ “big” that involves hoists, or windows being taken out. But Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale is not a play about a man being fat. It’s a play about despair, grief and regret; about self-loathing and a suicidal lack of self-worth. It is one of the saddest and most eloquent plays I have ever come across. It’s a play about love….

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