SHOW: Bathtub Moby-Dick
GROUP: The Renegade Company
ATTENDED: Sat., Sept. 7, 6 p.m., Wharton Heights
CLOSES: Sun., Sept 22
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: “Overwhelmed by his troubles, a man reads Melville's novel and begins a journey towards madness in his bathtub.”
WE THINK: The audience of Bathtub Moby-Dick sits on couches and chairs in a South Philly rowhome, when our main character Robert (Ed Swidey) barges through the door, apologizing that he’s late, but that his son will be here for his surprise 13th birthday party any minute now. After the son fails to show, we learn more and more about our host, most of it very depressing. We soon flashback to Robert giving his (invisible) young son a bath, which the audience watches on a live feed on a television screen. After reading him a children’s story of Jonah and The Whale, Robert offers to read his son a real story about a whale: Moby-Dick.
Robert gets more and more into the novel, even after his son is no longer there with him. While splashing around in the tub, Robert “becomes” Captain Ahab, while the other cast of characters are played by toys (Starbuck is a rubber ducky). As Ahab starts to truly lose his mind, so does our protagonist. Swidey plays this beautifully, acting out long stretches of the book as Ahab, then switching back to the pathetic drunk Robert, until they eventually blur together. Even though it’s not a true adaptation of Moby-Dick, there are long stretches of acted-out scenes from the novel (sometimes too long). Though Swidey’s performance is so realistic, after it’s over, you really start to question how much of the other characters were truly there in his mind. Bathtub Moby-Dick could have been just a uniquely weird idea, but Swidey's performance keeps it afloat. (Ha!)
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