Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick currently running at South Coast Rep in California. Photo by Liz Lauren.
The Lookingglass Theatre Company’s MOBY DICK is spectacular, dazzling and at times, lethargic. This may seem contradictory, but the show is beautiful and amazing in its embodiment of the grand spectacle of the story, but it has not done as well with maintaining the tension in the action. The plot feels sluggish and episodic, which is odd since it is based on one of the most notorious “hunts” in fiction.
Adapted and Directed by David Catlin who is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre (they won the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award), the company is known for a style of performance that is a cross between Story Theatre and Circus Arts. Imagine Nicholas Nickleby on trapeze.
Christopher Donahue’s Ahab is dynamic and menacing, Anthony Fleming III is a delightful Queequeg and Jamie Abelson is fittingly downtrodden as Ishmael. A chorus of three women in big black hoop skirts and parasols sing/chant the author’s narration and portray characters, whales and even “Fate.” There are aerial acrobatics, large swings and giant pieces of silk. It is definitely worth seeing this production for the amazing spectacle, I just wish the dramatic storytelling was a bit more compelling.