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Moby-Dick - Arcola Theatre


Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SIMPLE8 is presenting the world premiere of Sebastian Armesto’s stage adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick, which runs at the Arcola Theatre from March 27 to May 4, 2013.

It’s true. It’s all true for Moby-Dick. He’s a killer, he’s a fury, he’s an angel of hell, he’s an intelligent agent of ferocity. Why if the white whale could talk he’d talk like Ahab.

On a stage awash with theatrical driftwood, out of what looks like a shipwreck, simple8 – using their ensemble-based ‘poor theatre’ – conjure up streets, taverns, docks and the Pequod, as well as the storms, whale hunts and cetological lessons that populate Melville’s epic novel.

simple8 captures the book’s authentic image and experience of whaling – narrative, record and lesson about an historically mighty industry – and its inescapable, ungraspable search for meaning.

They throw themselves headlong into this search – from the senseless tattoos that cover Queequeg, to Moby-Dick’s mystical whiteness; from Ahab’s urge for revenge, to the ocean’s majesty that tugs Ishmael through the story – using original whaling shanties, lantern light and physical ingenuity to tell Melville’s masterpiece.

Also directed by Sebastian Armesto, the cast includes Oliver Birch, Nicholas Bishop, David Brett, Christopher Doyle, Joseph Kloska, Leroy Osei-Bonsu, Mat Wandless and Sargon Yelda.

Produced by Kirsty Hinton with simple8, Moby-Dick is designed by Simon Alison and Sebastian Armesto and has lighting by Sherry Coenen.

simple8 formed in London in 2004 and are focused on simplicity, the collective and the story. They create new writing through extensive research and development, inspired by rarely explored material and work with large ensemble casts. Using a variety of techniques, ‘poor’ theatre (a focus on the actor’s voice and body rather than theatrical devices), mime, live music and song, puppetry and magic, they aim to present work that is fun, inventive, original and daring.

simple8 will be occupying the Arcola for four months as they mount their most ambitious project to date – staging The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Moby-Dick back-to-back with the same ensemble and using set and props recycled from their previous work, shared by both plays and built out of reclaimed materials.

Tickets: 7.30pm performance – £18, £14 concessions; 2.30pm matinee on April 6, 13, 20 and 27 and May 4 – £16, £12 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7503 1646 or online at

Also at the Arcola Theatre: Mare Rider starring Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter.