Links to all reviews can be found using the REVIEWS link at the top of the page. Blog postings, links and more are available on my Facebook fan page. You can also receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.
MOBY DICK presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati through Nov. 8. Click here for more information on the production.
Co-directors Michael Burnham and Andrew Hungerford (who also handled the scenic and lighting design) stage an excellent adaptation of the Melville classic. You can also credit the success to the talented ensemble that is always in character and always in the moment.
Rico Reid, as Captain Ahab, skillfully handles his character’s downward spiral from obsession into madness. The confrontation scene between Ahab and Starbuck (Justin McCombs) is also well-done, as is Starbuck’s monologue over the sleeping Captain.
Sam Ray handles Ishmael’s dual responsibilities of character and narrator well, and I thought his close relationship with Queequeg (Montez Jenkins) was smartly established and easily believable. Jenkins shows great range as Captain Boomer of the Samuel Enderby. Jon Kovach also shows great range as the ship’s carpenter and Peleg, but it is his turn as Garidner, the desperate Captain of the Rachel, that sets the emotional tone for the ensemble’s best work of the performance.
The staging is imaginative and works extremely well. The ship’s brush with the typhoon is exceptionally well-handled and is a highlight of the production. Other favorite moments include the meetings with the other ships, the whaleboats giving chase and the handling of the rigging by the crew.
For the most part, the pacing of the show is solid, although it did seem to flounder a bit in the middle of the second act. A recent trend in plays has been the addition of songs in the performance. The sea shanties worked well during the rigging changes between scenes, but there were times when they went on a bit too long, impacting the pacing. Also at times the vocals (and some sound effects) overpowered the spoken lines. The final song with its harmonies, was very well-done and a great coda for the show.
Ahab’s ivory leg was very effective and looked great from the stage. When he raised the bottom of that leg to the audience though, the bright silver taps were clearly visible. A smart decision to get the sound you wanted, you just may want to make the bottom of the shoe all black to hide them. The red tip of Ahab’s harpoon didn’t work visually for me. The tie-offs for the rigging could use some paint (perhaps the brown used on the frame of the metal sheets) to establish them as part of the ship.
Know’s professional handling of MOBY DICK is a well-executed, well-acted and entertaining work.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.