4 out of 5 stars
Shamelessly swiping elements of amateur Christmas pantomime, silent slapstick sketches and those Morcambe and Wise plays which always ended in disaster, Spymonkey add enough of their own exuberance to the Moby Dick legend to ensure it feels as fresh as a sea breeze.
Introduced as being a production of the Compagnie Toby Parks, a motley crew of actors seemingly culled from the offcuts of regional rep companies, this version of Herman Melville’s (no relation) novel is one for our recession hit times.
Parks, a luvvie of the highest order, is intent on giving his audience the best show possible, even if it means the ship much of the play is set on and around is a slightly rickety effort.
Narrated by Ishmael (Aitor Basauri) in a strong Spanish accent (he’s difficult to understand so that the audience will pay attention more), we’re then introduced to the cast of four: Toby Park, Petra Massey and Stephan Kreiss.
Continuing the low budget theme, pub signs double as table tops, a metal pole becomes a mast and the quartet of actors don various iffy costumes to portray a number of characters.
All the while Parks attempts to tell the story of the novel with conviction, hampered by Massey as she continually trys to edge her way into scenes she shouldn’t be in (the novel has no female characters), Basauri coaxing audience participation and Kreiss overacting in every scene he’s in.
Taking a while to bed down – running jokes need to be set-up and the audience have to be brought up to speed on the tone of the piece – Moby Dick then takes off after around 20 minutes. From here it’s a torrent of bad jokes, musical numbers and confusion, none of it really making much sense but everyone clearly enjoying themselves too much to care.
With its scattergun approach to comedy meaning there’s something in here for all age groups, something proved by the diverse opening night crowd, Spymonkey’s Moby Dick is a strong production from a company who will hopefully be making a return voyage to Edinburgh very soon.
Spymonkey’s Moby Dick runs till Saturday at the Traverse Theatre, visit their website for details.