Evolution: The Whale Inside

Family complexity, plus a little cetology.
Russ Rowland

Things change. We graduate college. We celebrate birthdays. We lose our jobs. We get new jobs. This is the way life happens. Change can be simple or elegant or complicated or terrifying—but regardless, it is inevitable. Evolution—a one-woman, somewhat fantastical play written and performed by Patricia Buckley at 59E59 Theaters—offers its own take on change. Through a story that blends the lives of two sisters, their mother, and the unique evolution of whales, the piece delivers a moving, often funny, and ultimately heartbreaking tale of how humans endure, evolve, and move on.

The plot follows a woman, Minnie, as she deals with an unspecified depression-like illness. She spends hours in the shower, attempting to wash away her frustrations, but her time bathing results in "accidents" that send her to the hospital. At a loss, her mother calls her other daughter, a published author and workaholic paleontologist named Pammy, to come home and talk sense into Minnie. Under the direction of Michele Chivu, Buckley soars in each role. Her striking depiction of the three main characters strengthens as she flows seamlessly from body to body. Pammy exudes confidence, her mother gushes with compassion, and Minnie quietly observes the life around her. But it's the complexities of each character that reveal the subtext—the idea that we deal with change however we need to in order to survive. Even if that means, for Minnie, the possibility that she may be turning into a whale...

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