Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Tues—Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2 & 7:30, Sun at 2 & 7
Additional matinee Wed Nov 21 at 2
On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six hundred pound recluse hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter, he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen. Big-hearted and fiercely funny, The Whale tells the story of a man's last chance at redemption, and of finding beauty in the most unexpected places.
Scenic Design Mimi Lien
Costume Design Jessica Pabst
Lighting Design Jane Cox
Sound Desgin Fitz Patton
Production Stage Manager Alaina Taylor
Playwrights Horizons’ 2012/2013 season productions are generously supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Whale has received generous support from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and the Jerome Foundation.
Photos of (1) Tasha Lawrence, Cory Michael Smith, Cassie Beck, and Shuler Hensley; (2) Tasha Lawrence and Shuler Hensley; (3) Cory Michael Smith and Reyna de Courcy; and (4) Shuler Hensley and Cassie Beck by Joan Marcus.
RIVETING. An impassioned and arresting clash of minds and emotions. I was glued to the stage. Hensley’s performance is equally dynamic and horrifying.—Rex Reed, NY Observer
VIBRANT AND PROVOCATIVE. Hunter explores his material with sharp-eared skill and sensitivity. McCallum's production handles Hunter's text with clarity and devotion, getting uniformly strong performances from his five-person cast.—Michael Feingold, Village Voice |Read Full Article
EXTRAORDINARY. As he did in his breakthrough play A Bright New Boise, Hunter has constructed an outsize, gothic scenario in tender miniature,—Scott Brown, NY Magazine |Read Full Article
WONDERFUL. Shuler Hensley gives a startlingly poignant performance. Under Davis McCallum’s sensitive direction, you feel as if you’ve met real people, made of flesh and blood.—Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post |Read Full Article
AN AFFECTING NEW DRAMA. There may be no more startling image on a New York stage right now than the one greeting audiences at Playwrights Horizons when the lights go up on The Whale.—Charles Isherwood, NY Times
COMPELLING, FUNNY, AND UNEXPECTEDLY IMPACTFUL. Tony and Olivier Award winner Shuler Hensley is remarkably affecting job as 600-pound Charlie. Directed by Davis McCallum with no holds barred.—Jennifer Farrar, AP |Read Full Article
FOUR STARS. A deeply affecting and piercingly amusing play by Samuel D. Hunter. Davis McCallum’s production leaves an emotional wallop in its wake.—Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News |Read Full Article
CRITIC'S PICK. FOUR STARS. Sharp and funny. Hensley is harrowingly good, endowing Charlie with wit and dignity.—David Cote, Time Out NY |Read Full Article
Samuel D. Hunter is a highly promising writer worthy of Playwrights Horizons’ typically excellent attention.—Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom
A: Can you talk a little bit about the Idaho you grew up in? S: Yeah. I mean it bears less and less resemblance to the plays that I’m writing as I continue to write them. I mean they’re obviously set in Idaho, but there’s nothing that’s really quintessentially Idahoan about most of the plays. Like, there are some references that, sure, are Idahoan, but I think the plays actually are trying to be sort of non-regional, in a way. They could be anywhere in America.
About two and a half years ago, I took a job teaching expository writing to freshmen at Rutgers University. Initially, I had taken the job out of desperation; I needed money and was unable to find any adjunct teaching in theater departments anywhere in the city. An hour into the first training session, as I sat in the middle of a large group of English MA and PhD candidates and recent grads, a thought started to nag at me: You have no idea how to write a good essay. When we broke out into smaller groups, everyone introduced themselves and I stuttered a bit before telling the group that I had a masters degree in playwriting.
"Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life."
There's Steinbeck and Salinas. Faulkner and "Yoknapatawpha." Raymond Carver and his stomping ground, the Pacific Northwest. Philip Roth and Newark. More recently, there's Annie Baker and her fictional Shirley, Vermont. And then there are the settings of Sam Hunter's plays which, if you look closely, reveal a pattern:
The media are calling it "The Mormon Moment." Perhaps you've noticed it. The GOP nominee for President is Mormon. The Book of Mormon remains by far the hottest ticket on Broadway. And, the ecclesiastical ad-men of Salt Lake City have launched an omnipresent, well-produced TV campaign featuring normal folks—a New York comedienne working for The Daily Show, a Haitian woman turned American mayor, a French opera singer—who are meant to strike most of us as unlikely Latter-day Saints.