Photo courtesy of Bayou City Theatrics
The Kaleidoscope’s intimate stage will be engulfed by Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale. Centering around a 600-pound man named Charlie, Hunter’s moving play dares to reach deeply into a myriad of controversial issues, bringing them to the center of conversation, while maintaining a heartwarming and often hilarious evening of theatre.
Using only a microphone, Charlie (Travis Ammons) teaches English online, as his 600-pound body prohibits him from leaving his couch. With the help of his nurse-friend Liz (Natasha Gorel) and a specially-made walker, he can, however, visit the bathroom or kitchen on rare occasions. One afternoon, Charlie suffers from severe chest pain that leaves him to believe he’s dying. By happenstance, a Mormon missionary, Elder Thomas (Jacob Perkel), happens to knock on his door, just in time to help. When major complications arise in the condition of his heart and lungs, he finds that the timing is right to reconnect with his teenaged daughter, Ellie (Emily Brown), whom he has not seen in 15 years. Discovering that Ellie is indeed a very troubled girl, he persuades her to spend time with him each afternoon by helping her write essays. Visiting again to discuss the church with Charlie, Elder Thomas strikes up an unusual and unexpected friendship with Ellie. Charlie’s condition worsens, Liz’s concerns increase, Ellie’s behavior plummets and Elder Thomas grapples with inner conflict. When Charlie’s ex-wife, Mary (Katrina Ellsworth), enters the picture, it seems that the pot may be boiling over as the characters confront their pasts.