Tuesday, April 28, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘The Moby-Dick Variations’ is a whale of a show

Sarah Bidsall, Ngoc Le, Moira Niesman, Alejandro Torres and Will Klundt star in UC Davis' production of "The Moby-Dick Variations." Jeff Perry/Courtesy photo

By
May 9, 2011 |

Check it out

What: “The Moby-Dick Variations”

When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

Tickets: $17-$19 general; $12-14 students, seniors and children; http://mondaviarts.org or (530) 754-2787

Rating: PG-13

We met someone headed into the Mondavi Theater on Thursday night to see a concert. I told him we were on our way to see “The Moby-Dick Variations” in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre. “Good luck with that,” he said, rolling his eyes.

As I entered the theater, someone spotted me and said “I can hardly wait to read your review of this.”

Half an hour into the piece, when I was comparing it to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” meets “The Snake Pit,” I was wondering how I was going to handle it myself.

In an interview with the Cal Aggie last week, director John Zibell described his work, saying “… it’s not a play, it’s 135 little theatrical events inspired by ‘Moby-Dick.’ ” His comment gave me the perfect inspiration for trying to describe this piece … remarking on the “little theatrical events” that I personally took away from the evening.

As promised, this piece (I am reluctant to call it a “play”) “breaks every expectation that the audience has when they walk into the show.”

For one thing, there is no “audience” section. There are no seats (though a few small, uncomfortable wooden benches line two walls and can accommodate maybe a dozen people). There is a lengthy description of the director’s concept for this work in the program, but it is written in tiny print, in one long paragraph and there is not sufficient lighting in the theater to read it. The audience is expected to mill about and mingle with the performers throughout the two-hour performance.

The program lists the 22 actors in the production, but there is no indication as to who is playing which role. And it probably doesn’t really matter because there is no real plot that follows any logical linear progression.

(I only know that Will Klundt plays Ishmael because he is mentioned in the Aggie article. As to who played Ahab, or Queequeg, or any other character, it doesn’t really seem to matter since most of the work didn’t seem to be about “Moby-Dick” anyway.)

At one point I wondered if things would be more clear if I had actually read “Moby-Dick” at some point in my life, but I suspect that would not have helped at all.

For example, I don’t really think a lecture on basketball was written by Herman Melville. And while the scene of a young girl saying goodbye to her dying grandfather was touching, it didn’t have much to do with a white whale.

There was the feel of a frat party about it. Most of the people in the audience seemed to know all the performers and the noise level rose throughout the evening, accompanied by mostly cacophonous instruments playing music written especially for this work by Dylan Bolles and the Thingamajigs Performance Group.

I’m not sure what the girl in the pink lace dress and Superman undershorts was doing on roller skates being pulled through the crowd by someone hanging onto a rope.

Nor am I sure why the woman in the diaphanous gown was hanging from the door frame and then climbing down the outside of a staircase.

It seemed that whenever someone got hold of a microphone and began to say something you could actually understand, three other people in three other parts of the room also began to speak and you couldn’t understand anybody.

At an hour into it, I had a splitting headache, and I was counting down the last minutes of the two hours so I could escape. I hoped that maybe something worth mentioning would happen. But, no.

I finally decided that maybe I’m just too old to appreciate a show like this. Maybe avant garde theater is for the young. But I wasn’t alone. The best overheard quote of the night came from a group leaving the theater whispering to each other “We won’t say anything until we get to the car, OK?”

They were lucky they didn’t have to go home and write a review.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Teens embrace public art through Pence Gallery program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Robotics team members reflect on their big win

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: A1

    City’s eco-classes will explore water, wildlife, pests, composting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    Many hands make light work

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Yolo Basin Foundation celebrates 25 years, announces major fund drive

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Yolo County Bar Association honors Magna Carta, probation chief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Sierra Club leaders will meet April 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Capay Organic hosts Cinco de Mayo party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Chicken manure compost class planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Party celebrates release of Lescroart’s new novel

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Curious about calculus? Try Barcellos’ new book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Master Gardeners teach workshops throughout county

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Faithful Partner Fund established for K-9 officers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Pedro party, lunch benefit Yolo Hospice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Author — injured arm in sling — will sign her new book

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Holmes’ Green Team wins state award

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Vacaville contractor convicted of fraud

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Blueberries, apricots arrive at Sutter market

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    New UCD art lecture series named for Thiebauds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Pinball show features lots of free play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Asian garden open for tours this weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Waking up to the awful truth

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Dog’s freedom isn’t worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Vaccine bill is vital for our health

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Thanks for camera’s return

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

     
    David Brooks: Love and merit

    By David Brooks | From Page: A6

    Davis’ active transportation plan is right on target

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Huge first frame lifts DHS to huge baseball win

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil girls run it up on Grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD golfers move into first at Big West Championship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Another big inning does in Devil softballers

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

     
    AAA roundup: Cardinals break out big bats in Davis Little League win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Momentum Dance Company plans spring concert

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Get a positive vibe Wednesday from Tha Dirt Feelin’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post

     
    Winters Theatre Company performs on the Big Day of Giving

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    There’s no place like home in DMTC’s ‘Wizard of Oz’

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    ‘Contempt of Court’ next up at Winters Theatre Company

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Have breakfast in Oz on May 16

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Black Sea Hotel to perform in Village Homes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    DMTC’s young performers present a steam-punk ‘Snow White’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7