Sunday, 23 October 2016

One year at sea and still no sign of Dick

Nathan and I are driving across London from Southwark, where we've been watching Moby Dick at the Union Theatre. And what a funny, silly, irreverent piece it is! I believe it was first performed 25 years ago at the Old Fire Station in Oxford, and then, for a tragically short period, in the West End. Nathan was an ├╝ber fan, back in the day, and says, as a teenager, he saw the Oxford production as many as four times. 

The conceit of the musical version of this most famous of famous books is that a St Trinian'seque girls' school is putting on their own production with the head mistress playing Ahab, and various students, caretakers and teachers playing the other roles. In this respect it was rather reminiscent of Big Book For Girls, the show we performed for two years at the Edinburgh Festival in the early 90's. I assume there was something in the air at the time which made these silly school romps rather successful. Maybe it was a sort of counterbalance to the heavy anger of shows like Trainspotting which were also big news back then.

Anyway, today's was a lovely production which must have been incredible fun in rehearsals. There was more than a whiff of coarse about it and everyone was gloriously over the top to the extent that I was somewhat worried about the vocal health of a couple of the performers. Some of the little touches were hysterical. The set and all the props were made out of the sorts of things you'd get in a school hall; a vaulting horse, a climbing frame, various balls, bean bags, ropes and, most amusingly, an overhead projector, which was used to exquisite comic effect. At one stage, a giant blue cloth was used to represent the sea. It was painted with the words Wind In The Willows - plainly last year's school production. If you like all that campy, silly stuff (which I do) it's well worth a watch!

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