Lano & Woodley: Moby Dick

Reviewed by Lisa Clark

We all had hobbies during lockdown and Colin has learned to play the tin whistle and has a bit of fun with it though he is clearly still on his Learner’s Plates. He’s also spent time reading Moby Dick and wants to tell us the classic tale, but of course Frank has other ideas.

If you are looking for hard and fast political standup these are not your guys. Those familiar with Lano & Woodley’s work, will know that Colin Lane is the straight man trying to keep the show on track while Frank Woodley – The Silly One – is constantly, and with the best intentions, derailing it with a lot of hilarious tomfoolery and physical escapades. Last time we saw them in the show Fly, (now available for streaming), Colin tried to tell us about the history of the Wright Brothers and failed miserably due to Frank’s diverting diversions. This year Colin is attempting to tell the tale of Moby Dick and if you’re worried that you won’t get to the story, don’t worry, you WILL have it told to you, twice.

Alright, I’ve never read Moby Dick by Herman Melville, it’s one of those huge bloated books that sits on a shelf reminding you that you are a failure for not finishing it. One day I will conquer you…. Apparently it teaches you a lot about whales and killing them. I’m not sure if Frank & Colin are giving us an accurate rendition, but if they are, god bless them for reading the tome for us. And also for turning it into an hour of hilarious entertainment.

The opening epilogue is a song that takes the audience through the general plot points of the novel, taking on the ancient theatre tradition of preparing us for the bigger play to come. You might not catch all the events in the song, but that’s fine because they will play out during the show, which you will follow better because you had that preview at the start…. This is especially useful as things become more and more chaotic on stage and the night I saw it there were some real sound issues that stopped the show and added to the chaos. The lads soldiered on and led us through the maelstrom like the well-seasoned professionals they are. It was hard to tell if it was part of the show, at first, considering they used to “accidentally” set fire to a suitcase on stage every night and sometimes audience members would actually call the fire brigade.

As is often the case, the unscripted moments were often the funniest and though they are not really topical comedians, there was a sprinkle of excellent topical gags, throughout the mayhem. At times I felt the warm camaraderie was missing, that Colin was a bit too shouty and angry with the hapless Frank but then they get to a bit of the story where Captain Ahab has become soooo horrible and unhinged that his sidekick and friend Starbuck plans a mutiny. Aha, I see what they are doing…. I think that must be it anyway.

The elephant, or white whale, in the room, sadly wasn’t. There was some brilliant, artistic light and sound design, in evoking the scenery, sea life etc, but considering the huge eye popping props that have appeared in previous Lano & Woodley productions I was really looking forward to meeting the titular mammal and must admit to being a little disappointed.

The best thing about a Lano & Woodley show is you can take the family, especially older kids who don’t want to feel like they are at a “kid’s show”. They have an amazing way of entertaining all ages and will leave you at times breathless, then smiling for days when you think about bits of it.

Lano & Woodley Perform Moby Dick at the Comedy Theatre til April 24