DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Whale of a Time – Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle

Reviewer: Sara Jane Perovic

Writers: Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie

Director: Paula Penman

This may be Peachplant Productions debut as theatre makers but it most certainly won’t be their last. Superbly acted, skilfully directed and brilliantly produced, Whale of a Time turns out to be one whale of a show too.

Peachplant’s mission is to tell ordinary stories in extraordinary ways and they have certainly achieved their goal in this heart-warming and up-lifting production.

Kylie Ann Ford’s set design is stunning and succeeds in creating an ambient setting for this intriguing story that has one almighty sting in its tale. The musical interludes are effective and Si Cole’s lighting design is exquisite. The capacity audience (for the first time at Alphabetti since the pandemic began in 2020) is immersed into the belly of a whale in a very imaginative way with a clever and very funny script from Peachplant’s creators, Lucy Curry and Carl Wylie. Together they have created a beautiful piece of theatre that is a delight to watch.

This is the touching tale of Albert, 53, who has lived in the belly of a whale for 25 years and has never heard of mobile phones, social media or Google. Washed into the belly is 26-year-old Robert who seems an unlikely match yet a soul-stirring story unfolds.

Steve Byron (Albert) and Luke Maddison (Robert) co-exist within an uninhibited and unexpected relationship that transcends their differences to unite them in their humanity. These stalwart actors deliver polished and prodigious performances with an unaffected charm that is as sincere as it is masterly. Their delivery is flawless; their connection quirky and their portrayal perfection which along with the creative team’s skill and the writers’ subtlety make this undoubtedly a 5-star production.

Directed by Paula Penman with love, affection and full-hearted authenticity, Whale of a Time is a chance to experience northern theatre makers doing what they do best in one of the UK’s most progressive and exhilarating venues led by the ever-capable Artistic Director, Ali Pritchard.

Without revealing or spoiling the outcome, this is a moving performance that certainly makes you proud of the North-East’s local talent and artistry.

The Reviews Hub Score

Heart-warming; moving; uplifting

The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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