The Whale, a play written by Samuel D. Hunter was per- formed Oct.14-17 at the MCTC Theater in the Whitney Fine Arts Building. It was presented by the Theater Underground, a student organization at Metropolitan State University, and directed by Steven Modena.
“It’s basically like my senior capstone”, said Modena. “I decided instead of acting, which is what I had been focusing on before then, to do some directing”.
The Whale was written by award winning Samuel D. Hunter. Born in Moscow, Idaho, Hunter won a Drama Desk Award in 2015 for The Whale. It revolves around the last days of a morbidly obese man, who is bound to his apartment.
“You want to challenge yourself for your senior project”, said Modena “I was really drawn to it because it covers things like LGBT issues, issues about religion, issues about obesity in America… and [issues about] finding connections between people and how tragedy affects our lives” The play featured Zach Miller as a 600 pound Charlie, Julia Dahl as Charlie’s estranged daughter Ellie, and Elyse Evans as his close friend Liz. Other actors in the cast of five included Mark Stewart as Elder Thomas, and Sarah Dewhirst as Mary, Charlie’s ex-wife.
The stage was crafted to present Charlie as a slob. Set in the living room with an adjoining kitchen, his apartment is a mess. Trash is strewn throughout his apartment— empty soda cans, and paper. “With some shows you can get away with having just a chair or something, but this really called to be an apartment full of junk”, said Modena.
The story is a tense examination of Mormon spirituality, homosexuality, and redemption. It is also about love, about Charlie’s love for his daughter, Liz’s love and care for her friend Charlie, and Mary’s lasting love for Charlie. Even Ellie, who seems to be full of hatred, has love for her father.
Throughout the production, all of the characters showed great despair towards Charlie’s impending death; all except for Charlie, whose sole motivation was to do right by his daughter. Despite his daughter’s meanness and mock hatred for other people, he saw her as a remarkable person. Even in the midst of his own death, he projected hope.
Sarah Stewart is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in the-ater. She’s played Kate Monster in Avenue Q, and My Soul: and Other Broken Things. She thanks someone she names, “B for coming to every single show.”
Mark Stewart is graduating this spring with a B.A. degree in Theater. This was his third production at Metro State after being featured as Mark in Silvia, and Second Spirit in My Soul and Other Broken Pieces. He is grateful for working with a “great and talented cast crew.”
Elyse Evans, also a Metro State student is pursuing a B.A. in performance. She’s played roles in Rats Tales and My Soul and Other Broken Pieces, both Metro State productions. Her other stage performances include The Maids, and How I learned to Drive. She thanks her mother for “never missing a show.”
Julia Dahl is a senior at North Hennepin Community College. She recently portrayed Nakoma/ Thomas in How I Stop Worrying and Love the Mouse. She’s also performed in Sherry’s Basement, and Our Town at North Hennepin.