Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Moby Dick. It was adapted and directed by David Catlin from the book by Herman Melville, in association with The Actor's Gymnasium. The circus choreography was by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi. It was about a guy named Ishmael (Jamie Abelson when I saw it, Walter Owen Briggs at matinees) who was going whaling on a ship called The Pequod with his friend Queequeg (Anthony Fleming III) who he met at a hotel. The captain, Ahab (Nathan Hosner), had his leg bitten off by a whale with a name: Moby Dick. And Ahab is trying to kill him for revenge but endangering everyone on the boat while they are doing that. His first mate, Starbuck (Kareem Bandealy), is trying to keep him from putting the crew in danger and he also wants everybody to do their job, which is to get whale oil not revenge. It is about obsession, death, and understanding. I thought this was a really great show. I thought the circus elements tied in very well. Even though this is a story about a bunch of men on a boat trying to kill a whale, they made it beautiful and haunting by adding circus and musical elements (composed by Rick Sims).
This show incorporated a lot of circus into the story. There was a woman who represented the sea (Mattie Hawkinson) and she pulled men to their deaths in a seductive manner. She had this long flowing skirt that basically enveloped the whole stage. When she would walk offstage, it billowed behind her and it was super majestic to look at. All the people who were going out whaling have to give up seeing women for a long time, so it is like they are seeking the one thing they don't have while they are whaling and then they see that in the sea and then they die. There was also a beautiful and tragic death of a character named Mungun (Javen Ulambayar). He falls from the sails into the water and the Fates (Kelly Abell, Cordelia Dewdney, and Hawkinson) pull him down, but he is still trying to fight to get back up. There is this suspenseful music playing and Mungun is lowered on a rope and the fates are trying to get Mungun on the sea floor. They are pulling him down and he is pulling them up. It was super dramatic and fun to watch. I think the most haunting section was when you see Moby Dick, but he is made up of the Fates gone rogue. Their makeup is all smudged and they roar and they go on a rampage as one creature. It was slightly disturbing and intense. I was shivering a bit. I really liked how they portrayed Moby Dick's attack. Why it seemed so alarming was that everything seemed normal and then these alarms sound (designed by Sims) and you see these flashing lights (designed by William C. Kirkham), and it seems like there is a fire in the building, but no it is Moby Dick come to kill you! They make it so you are scared before you even know what is going on. There is also a great surprise for the audience when Moby Dick arrives for a second helping of Ahab, which I am not going to spoil.
Queequeg and Ishmael had an adorable relationship. When they first meet, they are kind of terrified of each other. But then they develop an unlikely (because they are from different sides of the world) friendship, where they learn about each others' cultures and they find out they see the world in a similar way by the end. I think you'd be crazy not to ship them! #Ishqueg'sShipHasSailed They both are searching for adventure and think of themselves like Jonah from the Bible. They both tell stories. Ishmael narrates the story that we are watching; Queequeg has a story that he carries around with him in tattoo form. Queequeq carves a story onto his coffin when he thinks he is going to die. And then the coffin ends up saving Ishmael's life, which means Ishmael is kind of saved by Queequeg's story. It is really sad because they had a really strong bond but they aren't together anymore.
People who would like this show are people who like beautiful circus elements, whale obsessions, and Ishqueg. I think that people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is moving, funny at points, and really mesmerizing to watch. It is so much fun to experience. I loved it!
Photos: Liz Lauren