Ishmael, currently playing at the Jungle Theater until February 4th, tells the story of Moby Dick using one actor, three musicans and Melville's own words. The show starts off in a classroom as Ishmael, now an older man, informs the audience about the power and resources of the whale before recalling the tale of his time on the Pequod. Leo Geter directed the show and also adapted Melville's great work, whittling down the roughly 800 page book into a 90 minute theatrical experience.
I have never read the book, I considered myself lucky to never find the epic in my academic curriculum. I was first introduced to the story last year in Theater Coup D'Etat's play based on the book. It is a testament to the richness of the story that theater companies still keep coming back to the story more than 150 years after the book was published.
I have found for myself that the story of Moby Dick isn't very appealing and I have struggled to get invested in the story. That being said it is clear to me that the production currently on stage at the Jungle Theater is a rich story full of talent that lives up to the high bar that the Jungle has set for themselves with their consistent high level of work produced.
Ishmael plays out on a simple but beautiful set designed by Sarah Bahr, which transitions seamlessly from a classroom to a ship on the high seas. Jack Weston's performance as Ishmael, along with multiple other characters, was fascinating to watch. I found it incredible how easily he seemed to be able to switch between characters by subtly changing the way that he spoke and the way that he carried himself. And last but not least, the musicians Kevin Kniebel, Nate Sipe (both from the band Pert Near Sandstone) and Jim Parker added an essential layer to the production. The songs that they wrote perfectly fit in with the story and cleanly broke up the narration.
Ishmael is playing at the Jungle Theater until February 4th. If you are a fan of the book then this show could be for you.
Click here to find out more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo Credit: Dan Norman