The Legend Of Moby Dick Whittington

The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington

★★★★★

Online

The Legend Of Moby Dick Whittington

The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington

Online until 5th January via www.thesleepingtrees.co.uk

Reviewed – 30th November 2020

★★★★★

 

“a fabulous family show that will have everyone feeling the holiday spirit

 

I first saw the work of the Sleeping Trees in 2019, and a good time was had by all who watched their zany take on Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers at the Battersea Arts Centre. It feels good, therefore, to report that even a pandemic can’t stop James Dunnell-Smith, Joshua George Smith, and John Woodburn from performing yet another mashed up panto in 2020. Moby Dick Whittington is a little different, it’s true. For starters the Sleeping Trees had to move into James’ home to perform it. The Company had to film the whole thing so that we could enjoy it in our homes. It’s clearly a notion that mingled inspiration with perspiration. And for parents who are looking for an easy way to tire out the kids on Christmas Eve in exchange for an hour’s extra sleep on Christmas morning, it’s a godsend. Just sit everyone down in front of the TV, mince pies in hand. Be warned, however, that no one will be sitting down for long. Moby Dick Whittington will have the youngsters jumping around and building forts in the living room in no time. As the Trees often say during all the mayhem that ensues — “Sorry, Parents.”

In 2020, the year we’d all like to forget, it’s the turn of Melville’s seafaring classic novel Moby Dick and that perennial panto favourite Dick Whittington to undergo dramatic vivisection. The plot (devised by the Sleeping Trees and Ben Hales) is way too involved to go into here (and anyway, spoilers). Rest assured that there is a happy ending. No whales are massacred in the making of this movie. There is some ingenious updating—for example, Captain Ahab becomes Dr. Jessica Ahab, an intrepid marine biologist. She is hunting the great white whale in the interests of science, naturally. And familiar characters such as Dick Whittington and his Cat are pretty much as we remember them in a more traditional panto. The Sleeping Trees’ arch nemesis King Rat makes his annual appearance. What Santa, Pinocchio, Scrooge and an entrepreneurial barista named Starbuck have to do with the plot — well, you’ll just have to watch Moby Dick Whittington to find out.

The strong points of this show are many, starting with the performers themselves. Relaxed in front of the camera, as opposed to their more frenetic style on stage, the trio pull off their usual quick character and costume changes with aplomb. Shaun Reynolds’ clever filming allows them to do this in “up close and personal” mode as well. A storm at sea is both funny and effective with some nifty hand held camera work. But the real genius of Moby Dick Whittington is the way the Sleeping Trees use multiple locations throughout James’ house. Kudos to director Kerry Frampton for figuring out the logistics. We move from the Christmas Lights ceremony on the staircase to the London sewers in the toilet. (Of course.) A ship at sea, and yes, even the inside of a whale’s belly are deftly created with easily obtained household items in the living room. (And we’re invited to play along.) King Rat and Dick Whittington fight their duel in the kitchen. One of the best moments in the show is meeting the great white whale himself in the bath, and learning how to speak whale. Don’t be surprised if your kids do “try this at home.” “Sorry, parents!”

Moby Dick Whittington is a fabulous family show that will have everyone feeling the holiday spirit. The only problem on the horizon might be the difficulty of coaxing kids back into theatres when they reopen. Why get dressed up to sit still in a theatre, when you could be at home jumping and up down on the sofa chasing a great white whale with bedsheets, a wooden spoon, and some toilet rolls?

 

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Shaun Reynolds

 

The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington

Online until 5th January via www.thesleepingtrees.co.uk

 

Recently reviewed by Dominica:
Revisor | ★★★★★ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | March 2020
Sky In The Pie | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020
The Revenger’s Tragedy (La Tragedia Del Vendicatore) | ★★★★★ | Barbican | March 2020
The Tempest | ★★★★ | Jermyn Street Theatre | March 2020
Bird | ★★ | Cockpit Theatre | September 2020
Bread And Circuses | ★★½ | Online | September 2020
Minutes To Midnight | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Paradise Lost | ★★★★ | Cockpit Theatre | September 2020
Persephone’s Dream | ★★★ | Online | September 2020
The Trilobite | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews