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sport for jove presents ‘moby dick’ @ the seymour centre

Production photos: Marnya Rothe

Sport For Jove’s latest wondrous show storm tosses us into the sea spray of the tale of Captain Ahab’s chase and duel with the White Whale MOBY DICK .  

Adam Cook’s gripping 90-minute adaptation of the iconic seafaring adventure tale for the Sport for Jove Theatre Company is based both on the original leviathan sized 1851 novel by Herman Melville and the two-act play written by Orson Welles, Moby-Dick — Rehearsed, that premiered in London in 1955. It ponders loneliness, the vastness of the ocean and asks many other questions in its poetic script. With its cadences and rhythms once can imagine it as a radio play .There are some changes though one of the most important being the inclusion of women in the cast.

Mark Thompson’s amazing set design is fluid and flexible – the stage features four floor-to-lighting-rig wooden boards and planks (which unexpectedly hide a drum set) and sheet metal either side of the stage. There are two ladders placed on each side of the performance space that become ships, barriers, whaling boats, planks and whales among other things. Assorted props include a sextant, harpoons and maps. The costuming is vaguely 1850’s like in style. Lighting designer Gavan Swift’s work is dramatic and refined.

There is fine ensemble playing and often the cast don’t leave the stage but where necessary sit listening, resting on other furniture or discreetly hide in the shadows. A sense of the cramped atmosphere yet sense of teamwork and community is developed.

Our narrator is Tom Royce-Hampton as Ishmael, whose role is perhaps a trifle reduced. The story is told through Ishmael’s concerned eyes as he examines and discusses the events. Here he is an Irishman, a merchant sailor who signs on for his first whale hunt aboard Ahab’s Pequod. The only survivor of the quest he is perplexed, shocked and yet rather mesmerised by the compelling events. Royce-Hampton also plays wildly explosive Taikoz style drumming for the whaling boat sequences .

Francesca Savige is terrific as Starbuck, the prudent and practical Quaker chief mate who is full of questioning, uncertainty and disquiet.

As Queegeg the lethal harpoonist from the South Pacific , Wendy Mocke, in a role with text specifically adjusted for a female character, is charismatic and powerful .   

Rachel Alexander is delightful as the generally ebullient young African-American deckhand Pip.

Danny Adcock as Ahab gives a towering, one could almost say Poseidon like performance, charismatic and glowering with haunted eyes . He ranges from cold, tenacious single mindedness blind to everything except his obsession to almost tender paternalism. We see his relentless, menacing and obsessive search for the whale descend into madness as he seeks revenge. He has a rather tender, intense duologue with Rachel Alexander as Pip at one point but it is charged full of racism as it explores some of the tale’s profound ponderings .

A wild, exhilarating and enthralling performance from an extremely talented and energetic cast.

There she blows! The white whale ….

MOBY DICK from Sport for Jove [Facebook] continues at the Seymour Centre until August 25.


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