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Ryland Roberts

“In the Belly of the Whale (a.k.a The Jonah Play)” Review

NEIU’s Stage Center Theatre held a very eye-catching “In the Belly of the Whale (a.k.a The Jonah Play)” on Nov. 10, 2023. The play, written by Georgette Kelly, is about separate individuals who live within a Manhattan studio apartment building. Despite receiving a radio notice to evacuate, they all chose to stay and are brought together by an intense storm and flood, forming unlikely bonds and relationships.

Photo By Ananth Prabhu

Registering for the play was a bit difficult due to technical issues with the virtual program, which included a malfunctioning QR code. 

Nevertheless, the play opens in complete darkness with the spotlight shining on the cast thus drawing the audience’s attention to the characters. These spotlighted areas were designated as the characters’ personal space.

Abby Heggem’s Illustration of Calliope the scarlet macaw.

As a dim yellow light pointed towards Jona, who aggressively shouts at Calliope, the parrot who copies her words, she is typing in her typewriter and becomes frustrated. Jona has been writing all of her life and has dedicated her current writings to the disasters that are surrounding her. She lives alone with her parrot and is desperate to build a connection with Astrid.

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As the lighting shifted to dark, the spotlight moved towards Domino, an elderly man who was surrounded by plastic bags, papers, and one table as he counted his change from a bag and recorded it on a small notepad. He also has one quilted blanket that he uses to sleep in at night. He doesn’t clean or tidy up due to the loss of his late wife.


Lastly, at the center of the stage with a light blue center was Astrid the sculptor, hard at work, she rarely speaks but is focused on the creation from her sculptor. Astrid is working on her final series of her artwork and continues to mourn the loss of her late husband.

Alongside them there is the supporting role of Jed, the hostile homeless man, who wants money from Domino and deliberately disturbs the other characters in trying to pursue his whereabouts.

Noteworthy moments were the dramatic transitions of the storm, lighting, and natural depictions of the objects floating around the flood and the transitioning of when the rain stops and the flood is shown at night, where the stars are surrounded around the theater.

Photo taken by Abby Heggum

If you ever find yourself trying to find “The Jonah Play”, you’re looking for a good time with a play of tragic twists, foreign and intense spiritual elements, and emotional, comedic, and reckless attitudes.

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