This isn’t your typical, stuffy, classical novel fare – this is a largely fast-paced, energetic effort which swims straight into the 21st century to deliver the heart of the novel while mixing in a variety of ecological warning messages.
When Ishmael joins a boat to become a whaler, he’s wide eyed and naive at what the ocean has in store for him. His time alongside the vengeance-obsessed Captain Ahab, chasing the great whale who wronged and maimed him, affects Ishmael deeply as he comes to terms with the vastness of the negative impact of man.
It’s a tremendous voyage to go on. This a production bursting at the scenes with creativity, and the multimedia approach is fantastic. Two screens on the stage provide for a layered approach to creating any setting necessary to bring this production to life. A coffee shop slowing filling up with water is a triumph of clever thinking, and digital animation of the whale is wonderful, particularly when it comes to his movement in the thrilling final chase scene.
Modernised sea shanties focusing on ecological issues divide the production into digestible pieces, keeping the energy flowing throughout. The acting is of a high quality, Lucianne Regan’s interpretation of Starbuck a particular delight. Her performance is Shakespearean in quality, one of the most compelling and empathetic parts of the show. Equally as strong is Rob Peacock as the older, embittered Ishmael, managing to deliver an impressive weight to his monologues.
Some of the wide-eyed ignorance scenes are more comical than clever, and perhaps a bit much is made of the gross-out element of the sperm portion of the whale. Although the staging makes every allowance for us to see the connection between both younger and older Ishmael, sometimes the bridge between the two seems too far. You’d almost expect the younger Ishmael to merge into his older, wiser self, but this isn’t inherently done in this production.
There is a lot to cover here, but the production manages to effectively condense an entire book into 80 minutes of multimedia whale-based fun. There’re seriously good performances here, as well as incredibly serious take-home messages – and if you’re looking for the best way to bring a classic into contemporary times through a stunning use of digital creativity, this production is the gold standard.
Written by: Herman Melville
Adapted and Directed by: Douglas Baker
Produced by: So It Goes Theatre
Booking Until: 26 October 2019
Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Booking Link: https://brockleyjack.co.uk/jackstudio-entry/moby-dick/#toggle-id-2