When you’re adapting a 600-plus page literary classic a lot can go wrong, but the Lookingglass Theatre’s production of “Moby Dick” does everything right.
Experience the thrill, drama, suspense, mania, and, surprisingly, laughter aboard the Pequod as Ishmael, Queequeg, Starbuck, Stubb, Cabaco, and Mungun search for the monstrous Moby Dick. As with most Lookingglass productions the first thing that grabs you as you sit in your chair is the set. The ship deck and whale ribs that are also used as masts on the ship entice the eye. For the first half of the play it’s easy to pay more attention to the actors climbing and swinging across the masts. In addition, there is a peek-behind-the-scenes feel in instances where you see ensemble members use hammers to make whale noises as well as thunder noises with metal sheets.
All these elements begin to truly transform the audience from feeling they are in a theater to feeling that they are on the Pequod. However, the final touch in the transformation is when Captain Ahab, excellently played by Christopher Donahue, makes his appearance. His mannerisms, the twitch in his neck, the power in his face, and the mania in his eyes not only transports you mentally to the Pequod but makes you feel as doomed as Starbuck feels that you’ll surely meet your death trying to find and kill Moby Dick. Anthony Fleming III also does a masterful job as Queequeg where the comic relief he provides early in the play creates a connection with the audience early where later you end up admiring his work ethic and bravery as well as feel his pain.
When you put all these amazing actors together and pair them with the magic of the Lookingglass by the end you are no longer an audience member in the theater but a silent member of the Pequod who cries, laughs, and frightens as you head to your potential doom.
“Moby Dick” will run until Aug. 28 at the Lookingglass Theatre located at 821 N. Michigan Ave. For tickets, showtimes, and more information visit lookingglasstheatre.org/event_page/moby-dick.