Friday, June 9, 2023

Fringe Review: Whale Fall

Who: Same Boat Theatre
What: Whale Fall
Length: 45 minutes
Where: Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts (126 James Street South)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at

If you’re someone who cares about environmental causes, then thinking about the future isn’t always a pleasant train of thought. Whale Fall depicts a version of the future where orcas—among other sea creatures—have gone extinct, and it follows the journey of a woman’s quest to find what might be the last one left alive.

Whall Fall presents a unique take on monologues and storytelling. Stephanie Hope Lawlor plays our protagonist, who stands on a white space representing a boat as she tells us the story of how she got there. While she addresses the audience directly, Raymond Louter appears as a figure circling around her, commenting invisibly on her story as she tells it. Periodically, we see him interact with her directly in the form of her father, giving us firsthand glimpses into the protagonist’s memories.

The contrast between Lawlor and Louter’s characters is one of the best parts of the show. The former is a conscious stream of thought, solid and clear, while the latter is a subconscious mind expressing itself in abstract forms. Their interactions as characters is just as compelling, showcasing the complex relationship between a worried father and a determined, idealistic daughter. Just as complex is her relationship with the orcas she longs for, and with her quest in and of itself. A symbolic struggle for dominance plays out between the father and the orcas, with each one striving to be more prominent in the daughter’s life.

Whale Fall is a highly engaging cautionary tale, and its message is vitally important to our society as a whole. It’s a bit on the heavier side, so you shouldn’t go in expecting something light-hearted, but it’s absolutely a show that you should check out if you have the chance.

Editor’s Note: In keeping in line with our values, it is noted that the writer of Whale Fall is a columnist with Beyond James. They were not involved in the contribution of this review.

Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock
Arthur Bullock is a graduate of McMaster University, Mohawk College and Algonquin College. He's spent nearly all his life in Hamilton, and has been reviewing plays at the Fringe since 2015. He has a passion for writing of all kinds, and loves to combine that with a longtime interest in local theatre.

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