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Dave Malloy's Moby Dick at A.R.T.

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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
Dave Malloy's Moby Dick at A.R.T.#101
Posted: 12/30/19 at 3:35pm
Yes, 3.5 hours is correct. I attended a 7:30PM performance and was out a few mins before 11.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Wee Thomas2
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
Dave Malloy's Moby Dick at A.R.T.#102
Posted: 12/31/19 at 9:50am

It was a "tight" 3:15 two weeks ago.  See post 81

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Dave Malloy's Moby Dick at A.R.T.#103
Posted: 1/12/20 at 11:10pm

Was able to catch Moby Dick yesterday just before it closed. What a WILD show this one is!! Easily Malloy's most experimental and ambitious piece to-date, at least among his major titles. As a big Malloy fan, I walked out of the show with very mixed feelings. It's a hot mess and all over the place, for very intentional reason. The Parts could not be more stylistically different from one another, and Dave writes the scenes/songs in vastly different styles as well. This is obviously to match how the novel is also written in vastly different and experimental styles as well. 

The section that clicked with me the least was Part 1. It felt like it started off as unfocused rambling from Dave about the moral guilt he feels about presenting Moby Dick (see his tweet about writing himself out of the show as Melville). The show hits the ground running with blatant modern political statements, and for me they don't fully work/cohere until Part 2. And the politics land like a bullseye for me by the very end of the show.

There's a lot that I loved about the piece, especially musically. The first choral harmony we hear during The Loomings sent goosebumps up my body, a sensation I haven't felt since hearing the a cappella section of Dust & Ashes in the Imperial. And maybe my new favorite Dave Malloy lyric might be "I hope that God hides the whale like a goldfish" as Starr Busby sings into bliss as the end of Part 2.

I especially loved Part 2 and all of the audience participation. The whaling excursion was done very well, and it doesn't get much better than a beautiful simple chorale about squeezing whale sperm with the comrades. The vaudeville style of Part 2 is so fun, and Eric Berryman's monologue is killer. Part 4 also worked for me very well, and I think the representation of the whale is a strong and effective choice.

But in the mix of the madness, a lot didn't fully work for me also. I felt very unattached from the show until the very end, not really caring about the characters and what they're going through. Which is shocking for me because I think that Dave sets everything up very well, using Ishmael as a modern protagonist returning to Moby Dick like his bible in his time of need.

Part of me wants the next draft to be more focused, but another part of me just wants them to expand it into an even longer epic of madness. I could bask in it for a full 5-7 hour epic really, and maybe that scale would've locked me into the narrative of the piece more. It's really hard to say. I'm excited to rewatch this show. I would love to read the script/score and dig into the meat of it all because there is so much going on.

Glad that Malloy confirmed that the production will be returning. Not sure how it'll play NYC. Rumor on the street is that it's associated with the Public, but I don't think any of their spaces are large enough for it. They'd have to drastically shrink the show, which doesn't feel like the right choice. I would love to see this at The Armory, BAM, or St. Ann's.