“Let Me Hear You Whisper” is an odd title for the one-act on Arts & Entertainment Cable Network tonight at 6 and 10. Playwright Paul Zindel wasn’t interested in whispering when he wrote this play in 1969.
His script was more of a shout, or even a scream. His target is scientific animal experimentation, and he declaims against it at full blast.
At a sinister lab in New York, mean scientists plot to kill a dolphin unless it learns to speak by the end of the week. But the dolphin, who has learned that the scientists want to train him for underwater warfare, is a conscientious objector, hoping to avoid battle by remaining mute.
Enter a gallant cleaning lady (Jean Stapleton), to whom the dolphin opens up. She is shocked to learn of the scientists’ plans. Despite the warnings of her boss (Rue McClanahan) and colleague (David Doyle), she decides to set the dolphin free.
It’s hard to get wrapped up in such a baldly exaggerated scenario. Zindel at least should have thought up an explanation, inadequate though it may have been, for the scientists’ decision to “terminate” the dolphin. As it stands, the story never rises above the level of simplistic, predictable propaganda.
At least McClanahan wrings a few chuckles out of her greasy team player, who poses as a sympathetic friend to the heroine, the better to control her. The dolphin is played by a puppet created by Peter Baird of Bill Baird Marionettes. George Schaefer directed.