What started as an exhilarating piece became an exhausting experience.
There are moments of stillness and beauty; in particular, the stunning opening image of the white whale, performed by Sarah Jane Taylor, blowing watery spray into the air, took my breath away. A black-out, then crash, bang, wallop! Dancers flying through the air, throwing themselves at each other as Captain Ahab subdues his crew, all along beating his own breast, mea culpa, mea culpa, (‘my fault’, ‘my fault’) a Catholic ritual acknowledging responsibility.
Captain Ahab’s dark obsession with pursuing the white whale is cleverly given Freudian significance by casting a slim, graceful girl as the white whale. In Moby Dick the whale is male, of course. Sarah Jane Taylor’s undulating body, arching her back and subsiding, beautifully suggests a whale’s appearance above the waves, cresting then rolling beneath the surface to dive below, her nonchalance a perfect foil to Ahab’s grimness. His wounding by the whale is portrayed by his leg’s entanglement in the very hawsers used to try and catch the whale. Obviously harpoons were not going to work on stage and this was a convincing substitution.
Unfortunately, the piece becomes repetitive and the overall effect is tedious. An attempt to lift the mood is made when the crew are transformed into a school of white whales but it nullifies the impact of the single white whale and went on far too long. Much tightening is needed throughout the show. Overall, the music is too loud, there is an over-reliance on fight sequence and what started as an exhilarating piece became an exhausting experience.