Whale of a Time Review

Alphabetti Theatre Newcastle – until Saturday 4th June 2022

Reviewed by Sandra Little


The setting for this play is the belly of a whale however, it is definitely not how you might imagine the belly of a whale to be! There are a variety of quirky props that we are told have been washed into the whale over the years. These props are used by Albert ( Steve Byron) to make the place feel homely and comfortable. Albert has been living in the belly of the whale for 25 years but has no idea why he is there! Albert is joined one day by Robbie ( Luke Maddison ), a young man in his twenties, who brings boundless energy, and some interesting pieces of information, into Albert’s life.

As the play unfolds we see a friendship develop between this unlikely pair and it becomes clear that there are numerous aspects of modern day life that Albert has no idea about. On one occasion Robbie explains to Albert the concept of a vegan sausage roll. Further conversations include discussions as far ranging as touch screen ‘phones, Raoul Moat, Google, YouTube and Strictly. This developing friendship also explores the theme of “ being a man” in today’s society and 25 years ago.

Throughout the play we don’t know why the two men are in the whale but we do know that they both wish to escape. Arthur misses his wife and daughter and Robbie is desperate to get back to his girlfriend. The only way out of the whale is through the blowhole, which seems an impossible task. The blurb which accompanies the play asks “Could Robbie be the solution Albert has been waiting for all these years ?” and also poses the question, “Why are they here in the first place?” .At the very end of the play these two questions are answered, but maybe not in a way you might expect. This short play, with a running time of about an hour, includes some quite thought provoking dialogue alongside several “ laugh out loud” moments. The ending caused me to reflect on incidents that were woven into the story. I came away thinking again about the significance of the Bangles song, “Eternal Flame” for example, and developed my own theory about the flickering light the two men attended to on several occasions during the performance. There are a lot of issues to consider in this short play with only two actors!

This is the second play I’ve seen at Alphabetti; a tiny theatre with a “pay what you feel” policy. As with the first, this play did not disappoint.

Produced by Peachplant Productions ( Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie) and Alphabetti Theatre.