I was going to review this play on Amazon but I bought this book from Playwrights Horizons. The book was published by Productions In Print, a print-on-demand publisher, so it is a book without an ISBN and cannot be found on Amazon.
I should write an essay on this play that begins, “I was very saddened by this book, and I felt many emotions for the characters”. That is an actual line from the play. The main character, Charlie, a morbidly obese man, is trying to reconnect with his angry daughter by forcing her to write essays. So the play is essentially about using writing to form a connection with others. This is a good theme for a playwright who hopes to form a connection with the audience through his writing.
But I did not see this play performed in the theater. I remember seeing a poster for The Whale when I walked past the Playwrights Horizons theater on my trip to New York City. I took a photo of the Playwrights Horizons theater and perhaps that will be my only connection with the place. Maybe I’ll only ever see the exterior of the place.
The Whale is an important symbol in the play but I’m not sure what the whale is meant to represent. Charlie is obviously the size of a whale. Ellie’s essay is on the book Moby Dick; or, The Whale. And the biblical story of Jonah who was swallowed by a whale while trying to escape the call of God, plays an important part in the play. Maybe Samuel D. Hunter isn’t too clear on the meaning of his symbolism himself or left it deliberately vague to confound the critics. But my guess is that the whale represents something big, like God, and our failure to connect with God destroys us.