Just short of a week into its run I popped along to the Alphabetti theatre to see this relaxed performance of Whale of a time, written by Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie.
What’s it’s about you say? Set inside the belly of a whale, we meet Albert, a man in his fifties who has been here for half of his life. Why is he inside of a whale? He has no idea, but after 25 years, he’s pretty much accepted it, it’s home. In washes Robbie, in his twenties and full of beans.
They’re an unlikely pairing but we follow their meeting as it turns into friendship.
After initial reluctance of sharing this space, we see Albert played by Steve Byron open up. This older man had accepted his life. Content on what he knows, carrying a generational way of thinking that is in the past, in contrast to our newly washed up resident Luke Maddison who plays our youthful and energetic young lad Robbie. He is open, with a modern way of thinking. Over time they embrace their differences and teach each other.
We learn that Bensham is only bad if you don’t live there, that there are such things as vegan sausage rolls, the wonders of YouTube and Phones and to older skills like how to dance and tie shoe laces.
Being relatively new to visiting the Alphabetti, this was the most staged production I’ve seen so far with props all around which bring us into the belly of the whale, we see all the washed up items that our character Albert has used to make home. I was pleased however these didn’t distract and the intimacy was still felt.
Lighting and music helped to set particular scenes. I particularly really loved the way music would transition a scene giving the element of time within a moment.
Both of these men become closer through their commonality, their differences and encourage each other to think differently. Albert comes to realise that the time he grew up in and the reality of modern day is different and that his rigid thoughts of being a man have changed, with this we see a lovely bond form. We also see a young lad, with an absentee father who blames him for his mothers death, find a father figure in Albert.
This was a wonderfully endearing and emotive production, made so by the two actors playing the roles. They had a real sense of chemistry. The end makes it all come together and make sense. Whatever has happened regardless of the how, leaves Robbie with memories that he will carry forever into his continued life. Just as the play is called Whale of a time, that is certainly what you will have.
Location: Alphabetti Theatre, St James’ Blvd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4HP
Box Office: Booking Essential.
Tickets are Pay What You Feel and are available from www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk/whaleofatime
Running Time: Approx. 75 minutes
Notes: 16+, strong language and themes that audience members may find distressing.