Heavy subject matter meets a 600-pound man in Obie-winning playwright Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale.

In Stray Cat Theatre's production and with the help of a fat suit, Damon Dering of Nearly Naked Theatre brings the hefty lead, Charlie, to life – though he's not living much of one. He has trapped himself inside his small apartment, eating himself to death, thereby further insulating himself from the outside world, as he grieves for his dead boyfriend. Save his caretaker Liz, the students in his online writing class, and a Mormon missionary who comes to the door, he's largely isolated. Nearing the end, he craves a connection with his estranged daughter, whom he hasn't seen since coming out and leaving his ex-wife.

Ron May directs the production, which runs through March 1, at Tempe Performing Arts Center, 132 East Sixth Street. Tickets are $20 for adults in advance and $25 at the door. See or call 480-227-1766.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays, 7 p.m.; Sun., March 2, 2 p.m. Starts: Feb. 14. Continues through March 1, 2014
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski