Moby Dick by Herman Melville adapted by Douglas Baker. The Brockley Jack Studio, Brockley SE4 2JH to 26 October. 3***. William Russell

Moby Dick
By Herman Melville adapted by Douglas Baker.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2JH to 26 October 2019.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 75 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 10 October.

You will have a whale of a time, for which usage I apologise, at this inventive version of the tale of Ahab, Ishmael and the great white whale turned into a fable for our times as Ahab goes mad and Ishmael realises all is not well in the seas of the world. Clever use of multimedia projections is made, the cast of five perform lots of roles with conviction, and when the whale finally appears it turns out to be – I will not spoil the surprise except to say the stage ends up littered with the detritus of the age which is doing such damage. There is a splendid sequence when they all end up in the boat from which the harpoon aimed at Moby Dick gets tossed while Moby thrashes around all over the place. It is possibly all just a little bit bonkers and sometimes clarity is lacking – it does help to know something about the novel. But it all passes at a suitably fast pace, the versatility of the cast is beyond question, the sea shanties sound great and Douglas Baker’s video designs intrigue and impress. To read the book first might be asking too much – it is quite weighty. But a swift run through the plot on Google would be a good idea. Then the message for today should come across loud and clear. Rob Peacock is a feisty Old Ishmael looking back at his days at sea where he became the spouse of Queequeg played with some style by Stephen Erhirhi – not quite Melville I think – and suffered life under Ahab, Charlie Tantam doing demented. The Young Ishmael, nicely played by Ben Howarth, does not quite look as if he grew up to be the Old Ishmael but you know he is because they both wear the same red knitted hat. If occasionally I felt all at sea, it remained an evening that had something to say that is actually worth saying about man’s misdeeds affecting the oceans and their inhabitants. That leaves Starbuck played by Luicianne to do all sorts of things not necessarily associated with coffee although it does get drunk.
Old Ishmael: Rob Peacock.
Young Ishmael: Ben Howarth.
Ahab: Charlie Tantam.
Queequeg: Stehen Erhirhi.
Starbuck: Lucianne Regan.

Director: Douglas Baker.
Composer: Richard Kerry.
Lighting Designer: Toby Smith.
Sea Shanties: Alex Chard.
Sound Design: Callum Perrin.
Video Design: Douglas Baker.
Assistant Director: Emma Blacklay-Piech.
Production photographs: Carl Fletcher.

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