Captain Ahab may have spent his entire grizzled career searching for an elusive white whale, but the “whale” in Samuel D. Hunter’s award-winning play is always vividly, uncomfortably present. The Whale, which premieres Saturday at GableStage (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables), is about Charlie, a morbidly obese gay man — played by actor Gregg Weiner in an elaborate fat suit — eating himself to death in suburban Idaho. At 600 pounds, with blood pressure numbers that can only be described as astronomical, Charlie is a quintessentially American tragedy; there are too many like him, but we usually hear about them on the local news only when they have to be airlifted from their sofas. Though our protagonist in The Whale is in dire health, he remains mentally active, teaching an online writing course. His mind buzzes with intellect and insight, raising questions of inner beauty. This alternately comic and disturbing work also addresses issues of redemption, religion, sexuality, and family through Charlie’s visitors, who include his estranged daughter, a nurse, and a Mormon missionary. Amy Miller Brennan, Arielle Hoffman, Deborah Sherman, and Karl Skyler Urban will join Weiner in this South Florida premiere.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: July 19. Continues through Aug. 17, 2014