the whale]’

In search of the great, white…leg

Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble's "Moby-Dick" journey heads for the lower extremities

The focus of Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble’s latest installment of its 18-month investigation of Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” becomes apparent right away. It’s not Ishmael, Melville’s narrator, or Queequeg, the South Seas harpooner. And it’s not a great white whale, even though the title of this play is [or, the whale].

In fact you can be forgiven for asking this production, hey, where’s the whale? Moby-Dick isn’t part of playwright Juli Crockett’s take on “Moby-Dick; or, The Whale”—which happens to be the full title of Melville’s great novel about whaling in the 19th century, neither fluke nor flipper.

Jacob Coleman, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Cristi Miles all play Ahab in '[or, the whale]' for Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble/Owen Carey

Jacob Coleman, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Cristi Miles all play Ahab in ‘[or, the whale]’ for Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble/Owen Carey

No, the focus is on Ahab, the obsessed Captain of the Pequod, and not really even on him, more on a part of him: his leg. Or rather his missing leg. The focus is on something that isn’t there. “There is nothing worse than having nothing where there once was something,” is how Crockett puts it in the play. Crockett’s play isn’t about revenge against a whale, it’s about a search for a leg.

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