Presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Musicâs Next Wave Festival, Songs and Stories from Moby Dick is a head-on collision between our most postmodern nineteenth-century novelist and a performance artist who, since the early eighties, has been praised and skewered as a tribune of the pomo. Andersonâs take on the great whale hunt is typically askew: she throws away major episodes and elaborates on wispy digressions, caring as much for the novelâs afterlife as for its plot. As a consequence, Songs and Stories is perhaps most interesting as a gloss on Andersonâs own art, which has seemed less pointed in the 1990s, as if its targets were slipping out of focus. Lavish and meticulous, the production is Times Squareâmillennial: a big bash, riotous with color and computer graphics, intrepid in its sampling of musical genres from funk and calypso to Broadway balladry. Yet it is also dubious about its own artistic glitz, questioning how our hunger for the all-embracing Gesamtkunstwerk may be the contemporary equivalent of Ahabâs mad search after the whale. So Anderson plays the accomplice of theatrical ambition and its critic, too. Her Moby Dick is sometimes enlivened, but mostly saddened, by the contradiction. Anderson follows
Theater – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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