Review | ‘Whale Fall’ explores understanding our place in a changing world

Whale Fall | PICA | til Feb 27 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Whale Fall is a play looking at transitions, specifically at the transition of a young child into their gender-affirming being and body.

Whale Fall, written by Ian Sinclair and directed by Melissa Cantwell for The Kabuki Drop: explores, family, disruption, connection to the land and sea, home, the body, unconditional love and transitions across generations; presented with empathy and authenticity.

An enquiry into the transitions within family dynamics over time, disrupted by events through the journey of life, the changes occurring in relationships like the ocean’s tides.

Environmental changes occurring to the earth and oceans, climate and our environment, changes within one’s own body over time are paralleled and explored beautifully.

Ian Sinclair is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and producer exploring immersive participatory installation, live art and cross-artform collaboration; that consider fragility, queerness and the ecological uncanny.

Ian was inspired by a 2015 essay of the same title, by the environmental writer Rebecca Giggs. Rebecca is an award-winning author from Perth, Australia, writing about how people feel toward animals in our time of rapid technological change and our ecological crisis.

Inspired by this essay has painted a gorgeous beautiful world, set in Western Australia, Perth audiences will experience a sense of familiarity.

The parallels of the human experience and other earth beings, in this time of rapid ecological and social change, are revealed slowly and thoughtfully through the play; revealing the complexity, splendour and fragility of life.

Whale Fall explores the gender dysphoria of a young trans child, the blended bonus family across generations and the ecological human-made devastation occurring in our world.

Dysfunctional family dynamics are revealed and paralleled with the toxicity of our polluted fragile oceans and the effects of human activity on the existence of other animals, cohabiting the world.

Within this family dysfunction occurring with strong-minded personalities, there is a sense of unconditional love for what is best, and only the individual in their own body can know this. Only we can direct our own lives, in the best possible way; with support.

Whale Fall builds a sense of empathy for the characters over time, hopefully, the audience will come away with an enlightened understanding and empathy for others and one another from this play.

In a world, changing quickly, we always don’t understand our place within it, Whale Fall presents a sense of accepting our own and others place within; the journey through life.

Perth audiences are extremely lucky to have the World Premiere at PICA during the Perth Festival. The entire Perth production from writing, directing, performance, sets, props, costumes, lighting and sound: reveals how much love, empathy and mindfulness has been gifted to this production, endearing a sense of authentic real lived experiences.

I hope this stage production has been recorded, with hoping an extended season occurs, as it brings together and presents a unique audience experience, only accomplished when all the best people are authentically involved in the storytelling process.

See Whale Fall until Saturday 27th February. For tickets and more information, head to

Guy Gomeze is an artist, arts worker, photographer, writer, and occasional curator, they have worked in the arts for 25 years between the east coast and west coast of Australia.

Image: Emma McEvoy

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