Some people love a challenge. Moby Dick? The Herman Melville novel? The novel with the gigantic white whale? It can’t be done! Well, Simple8 tried and succeeded. Simple8 is a critically-acclaimed ensemble based theatre company who specialise in creating innovative, bold new plays that tackle big ideas using large casts – all on a shoe-string budget. So how does a company with a shoe string budget put on an epic production like Moby Dick? Am I asking too many rhetorical questions? They say the first rule of acting is reacting, and the cast and crew have taken that to heart.
The harpooning of such a play, that’s right, get ready for a sea of puns, were led by Captain aka Director and Playwright Sebastian Armesto. He has captured every tone of the thrilling, yet informative epic. Ishmael, played by Sargon Yelda, offers his opinion of the Pequod’s mismatched crew as well as educating the audience on the types of whales and the finer details of whaling. Yelda is our innocent, wide eyed story teller that enters the voyage with the same romantic notion as the audience, yet darkens as the sea and sky turn grey.
Yelda is just the bow of the ship and cast. In his foamy wake are a sturdy band of actors. Joseph Kloska’s Ahab is a perfectly pitched mix of obsession and mania, and Leroy Osei-Bonsu’s Queequeg is majestic and gentle. Each of the ensembles played their part handsomely, grabbing the audience from the first accordion note to the last sombre hum. Music, song and jaunty sea chants help to sail the story home.
But there was a bigger problem than the narrative of the 600 page novel. They had a leviathan task ahead of them, the whale in the room, how do ye put a white whale on stage? Answer, you don’t. A candle in the stormy ocean wind, Simple8’s run was brief. Its run has ended so nothing is about to be spoilt. As previously mentioned, acting is reacting. The actors, with little more than drift wood, make us believe in Ishmael’s and company’s adventure. They make us see a whale, believe Ishmael and Queequeg fought against a typhoon and sailed out in whaling boats. Brilliantly executed, I had a whale of a time watching Moby Dick.