The Whale

F, Sa 8pm; Su 2pm. $12-$20. Through 2/12. The Three Penny Theater at the R25 Arts Complex, 1725 25th Street; (916) 415-5822;
Rated 4.0

Directed by Shawn O’Neal, this Samuel D. Hunter play tells the story of Charlie, a 600-pound gay man who sits in his apartment, which is strewn with wrappers from candy bars, bags of chips, pastry wrappers and other boxes of junk food. He is slowly eating himself to death following the death of his partner. Koel Mario Rickert gives an outstanding performance as Charlie, who spends his days teaching writing classes on the internet (using no webcam because he doesn’t want his students to see him). Elder Thomas, a Mormon missionary, meets Charlie and is drawn into his life. Charlie’s 16-year-old daughter Ellie, whom he has not seen in 14 years since he left her mother, arrives. She is curious about her father, whom she finds disgusting, though somehow interesting. The play tackles many subjects: writing and Charlie’s need to teach his students to write well; gluttony; parenting; self-loathing; grief; and the depths of love.