The publication of what is regarded as one of America’s greatest novels is the pretense for shenanigans from two of Australia’s favourite comics in Lano and Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley). It starts with imagery of an albino whale accompanied by the silhouette of a couple of musicians – one on guitar and the other tin whistle – behind a series of conjoined sailcloth screens.
They quickly show themselves to be the dynamic duo, with Lano taking the lead singing a song, which takes us through the story arc of Moby Dick by Herman Melville … with twists and interruptions. On stage, by way of props, are a couple of wooden barrels and a harpoon. Lano then encourages Woodley to wait in the wings while he tries to talk us through the tale … leading to an ongoing sight gag that brings with it heaps of audience laughter.
So, too, Lano’s opening words of the book – “Call me Ishmael” – which Woodley queries and immediately capitalises upon. It is Woodley’s frequent interruptions that catapult the show into slapstick territory, so that it becomes as much about the interruptions as about the retelling of the story. In fact, the way they play it, Lano struggles to move on with the narrative. Hilarity and mayhem ensue. Music stings and visual gags (one involving a lobster and another a giant squid), along with video footage, become a most enjoyable mainstay of the piece.
Lano & Woodley Moby Dick is often hilarious. The pair is most gifted and bounce off each other beautifully. Organised chaos is the name of the game. The production is seamlessly silly … in the best possible way. Lano plays up his mock frustration, which Woodley milks for all it is worth. Writing, delivery and improv all play a part in making Lano & Woodley’s Moby Dick 65 minutes of comic mastery. It is on at Comedy Theatre until 24th April, 2022.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Play That Goes Wrong (touring) – theatre review
- The Return of Shafar (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) – theatre review
- Judith Lucy & Denise Scott Still Here (Arts Centre Melbourne) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.