We are all searching for something in this life, and oftentimes it’s something that can’t be got. That’s Captain Ahab’s story, but it’s probably yours and probably mine too. In BATHTUB MOBY-DICK, Ed Swidey plays a man who has lost something. That he happened to lose it while reading Melville’s classic Moby-Dick to his young son is important. As the audience sits around a South Philly living room—the birthday party décor is complete with balloons and streamers and cheese doodles—Swidey oscillates between modern-day deadbeat dad and wooden-legged captain of the Pequod. The story of our nameless shirt-and-tie protagonist is fused harmonically with Ahab’s doomed quest for vengeance.
The narrative—by Swidey and director Michael Durkin—demands both playfulness and bravery from its sole character. Swidey rises to the occasion, treating the audience to a marathon performance in which he strips naked, communicates with a rubber ducky (who plays Starbuck), and splashes around with madcap glee to reenact the final showdown between Ahab and the whale. On opening night, Durkin’s technical team might still have been working out the kinks; the bathtub action is seen by the audience via closed-circuit television and heard through tiny, hidden speakers, causing some of the subtler moments of Swidey/Ahab’s story to be lost on the audience’s ears. But the deconstructed theater environment created by Durkin and Swidey is thoroughly engaging, and Swidey’s performance, both on camera and in person, is always in cinemascope. [Wharton Heights]. September 4-22. fringearts.ticketleap.com/