Best Actor (2013)

Matthew Arkin

While up-and-coming playwright Samuel D. Hunter's new play, The Whale, lacked a little meat on its bones, Matthew Arkin devoured the titular role as a 600-pound man consumed by guilt, Moby Dick and eating himself into the grave. The physicality was impressive (playing a good drunk takes more skill than you think, as does playing a morbidly obese man quavering on his feet and inching across the stage at a snail-like pace), but so was Arkin's emotional resonance. His acute sadness and desperate attempts at reconciling with his daughter lent the real weight to this flawed but memorable show. Even more interesting: Arkin's performance at South Coast Repertory made you feel less sorry for his character and more proud of his commitment to go out the way he wanted.


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