Review: MOBY DICK, Wilton's Music Hall

A marvellous adventure to behold.

By: Apr. 26, 2024
Review: MOBY DICK, Wilton's Music Hall
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Review: MOBY DICK, Wilton's Music Hall A charming adaptation of Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Sebastian Armesto’s Moby Dick mixes music and drama in an effective, atmospheric production that never gets lost at sea, no matter how daunting a task it is to stage the novel.

The play is naturally immensely condensed, forcing a whale of a novel into barely two hours of runtime, but it does so successfully. Important plot points are tackled - such as Ishmael’s (Mark Arends) first encounter with Queequeg (Tom Swale) or Starbuck’s (Hannah Emanuel) near-confrontation with Ahab (Guy Rhys). While some of it does feel a tad bit rushed, quieter moments receive sufficient time to give the audience time to breathe and plenty of sea shanties - sung beautifully by the cast - provide an exceptionally diverse experience.

Moby Dick is notoriously difficult to put on stage, but here it is pulled off well. Director Jesse Jones’s production is barebones with just a few props, bars and planks of wood creating the set by KATE BUNCE; her costumes evoke a genuine feeling of seafaring. While none of the production is on a grand scale, it all plays into the atmosphere and creates a whole that is simply enjoyable, even if it doesn’t maintain the same gravitas that one gets when reading the original.

Particularly the build-up of Ahab’s character before his first revelation, and then the emphasis on the captain’s obsession with the whale, are aptly delivered throughout and create a sense of foreboding on an intimate, homely scale that feels none the worse for it. Rhys’s portrayal of the character is suitably dominant, and he’s supported by a wider cast who are all entertaining.

It’s amazing what is possible on a low budget. The script is tight and well written, the acting delightful and the production more than pleasant. A marvellous adventure to behold.

Moby Dick is at Wilton's Music Hall until 11 May 2024. 

Photo Credits: Manuel Harlan


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