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Julian Felice (The Blue Whale)

Julian Felice, a playwright from the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, brings his play 'The Blue Whale' to The Space Theatre, London from the 23rd to the 25th February 2023. The play has won Best Original Play at the 2022 Gibraltar Drama Festival and Best Play at the 2022 Duncan Rand Youth Festival held at Medway Little Theatre in Rochester, Kent. Ahead of the performance dates, I spoke to Julian to discuss the show.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the plot of The Blue Whale?

The Blue Whale is a dark comedy about a loser-in-love Lewis, who meets a girl online. Keen to impress her, Lewis agrees to take part in a game where she sets him a series of challenges. As the challenges escalate, so do the stakes, placing Lewis in increasing conflict with those closest to him.

Q: What was your inspiration for writing this play?

A: I came across an online article about the Blue Whale phenomenon where, as in the play, participants are given a series of challenges by people they meet online. Tragically, some of these incidents have even led to some people committing suicide. The articles and the awareness that raised in me about the phenomenon, made me think of exploring the issue further. I had already written a scene which fit the idea, and that has become the opening scene of the play. While the plot of the play does not fully mirror Blue Whale traits, it nonetheless creates tensions between the characters, both online and in person

Q: Why do you think this play is important? What messages/themes do you wish to convey?

I think there are two main themes in the play that are key to todays day and age. The first is the issue of toxic masculinity and, in particular, how it impacts on relationships between males. Toxic masculinity often forces men to be something they are not, and this is certainly the case in the in-person version of Lewis that we see. Ironically, Lewis is more himself when he is online. The second theme is loneliness. While the modern world may be more connected than ever, the fact is that many people are lonely in this world and struggle to find their place in it. This makes many people turn to strangers who they meet online and they, in turn, give many a sense of purpose. It is this desire for purpose that drives people like Lewis to desperate measures.

Q: How would you like your audience members to respond to this play? What do you hope that they take away from the performance?

A: Firstly, I want the audience to laugh at the right places, despite the fact that some of the things we may laugh at, may cause some discomfort. I want them to root for Lewis, to want him to win the game, before realising how high the stakes are. I think that all the characters are flawed but there are elements of them that are attractive. I hope that it also exposes them to some of the dark world of the internet, and how anyone can be anything they want from behind a keyboard.

Q: And finally, what do you think makes your play stand out?

A: This is the first time that a theatre company from Gibraltar stages a play written by a Gilbraltarian in London. Even though the play itself has little to do with Gibraltar itself, it is exciting that the whole team is travelling from Gibraltar to London, with funding from the Gibraltar Government.

The Blue Whale runs at The Space Theatre, London from 23rd-25th February 2023. Alongside this, there will also be a live-streamed performance on the 25th February. For more information, head to The Space Theatre website here.


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