Catch ‘Moby Dick Unread’

Posted 9/10/10

A dozen buckets hang from the ceiling. A small table with an empty aquarium tank is placed center front. Enter Brian Colonna in whaler dress, saying …

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Catch ‘Moby Dick Unread’

Posted

A dozen buckets hang from the ceiling. A small table with an empty aquarium tank is placed center front. Enter Brian Colonna in whaler dress, saying “Call me Ishmael,” as Herman Melville began his epic tale and advising the audience that the Buntport company is going to tell us the story of Ahab and Moby Dick, the Great White Whale… so you won’t have to read it over the weekend.

“Moby Dick Unread” continues through Sept. 25 at Buntport Theatre as the creative group opens its season with a repeat of a delightful earlier production (2007). (The entire 2010/2011 season will be repeats — a combination of fully-staged plays and staged readings — as the company focuses on creating a new work about the scientific genius Nicola Tesla, a commission for the Denver Center Theatre Company).

“The thing about “Moby Dick” is that you need a boat — and some water,” he comments, whereupon a wooden boat, named the Pequot, slides into view and those buckets are lowered.

Colonna proceeds to read a few passages from the lengthy book, naming characters and talking about harpoons and such and explaining “We’re making do.” This crew is especially noted for its genius in making do with inventive staging, so one happily waits to see how on earth they’ll pull this one off.

Enter lanky Erik Edborg carrying a tiny white mechanical whale, which he ceremoniously winds up and drops in the tank. He then pushes up his sleeves and thrashes around trying to catch it, immediately engaging the audience in the first round of giggles. The comically-gifted Erin Rollman enters to swab the decks, Edborg lists supplies one needs for a three year journey and we’re off, with Hannah Duggan posing on the deck as Ahab and the cast dispersing assorted bits of lore from Melville’s text and their own imaginations.

“Obviously you can’t act out all 135 chapters,” the program copy advises. “Well, you could, but you probably shouldn’t… we’ve left the familiar story line of Ahab’s obsession with the white whale… Melville’s meanderings, side stories, educational chapters about the whaling business, etc.” Much of the script came from the novel, described as strange, funny, tragic, educational, long… inviting interpretation.

It’s the sort of thing that can happen when a bunch of theater-minded humanities majors gather to exchange ideas. But this group has developed the skills to carry those ideas into something viable, often launching from a classic bit of literature. They attended Colorado College together and have worked together since, with a growing audience in their warehouse venue — and modestly-priced tickets.

Don’t miss this one. It’s a short run.

If you go:

“Moby Dick Unread” continues through Sept. 25 at Buntport Theatre, 717 Lipan St., Denver. Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays , Fridays, Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays Sept. 12 and 19. Tickets: $16, $13. 720-946-1388, www.buntport.com.

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