Maybe Dick - Photography by Emily Appleton.

Maybe Dick by John Hewer at the White Bear Theatre

I’m always a little bit ashamed that while I am quite well-read, I have failed to read some of the great classics of literature. It was easier when I was at school and you could buy revision cards that gave the basics meaning you could hold your own in conversations about, for example, ‘Little Women’ or ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ Nowadays, I try to make up for my lack of knowledge of a classic by watching a movie or, even better, a theatrical presentation. So, you can imagine I was very pleased to be invited to see a one-man version of Herman Melville’s classic – and apparently one of the inner circles of the Great American Novel – of revenge and retribution “Moby Dick.” The show was called Maybe Dick and I caught it at the White Bear theatre.
Maybe Dick - Photography by Philip Marshall Jnr.
Nantucket, 1841. Ishmael (John Hewer) signs on to the Pequod. Whilst all the portents, not to mention visions, the bones and biblical guidance are telling Ishmael this is going to be a mistake, he goes ahead and bears witness to the perils of nature and obsession as Captain Ahab (John Hewer) conducts a reckless pursuit of the savage white whale, Moby Dick.

I’ve only given you the very basic synopsis of the story above and that was very deliberate. If you’ve read the book, you think you know what will happen, and if you haven’t, then you’re in for a big, and I mean ginormous surprise. Either way, Maybe Dick is going to amaze and astound you and I really can’t give away too much. Considering the novel is a bit of a heavyweight, writer/performer John Hewer, makes this version a literal laugh a minute. As well as Ishmael and Ahab, Hewer plays ten other characters, and a scene-stealing seagull. Each character is beautifully portrayed and, at times, even without uttering a word, you know exactly which character is in front of you. Some take you by surprise while others have a feeling of familiarity about them. Naming no names, but at one point one half of a very famous duo does appear and fills the stage with a personality people of a certain age will know and love.

Hewer’s storytelling is assisted by a very flexible and at times surprising set designed and constructed by Ian Hewer and Tom Crawshaw which with great direction by Bruce Knight gives him a full space to feed us the tale. And what a tale it is. I have a feeling not that much of the script is from the original book given the sheer number of jokes and puns that are used. This is one of those shows where you start smiling immediately and are either laughing or groaning throughout. Comic wordplay, dad jokes, good and bad puns, the show is full of them all with none of them feeling out of place and all contributing to getting the story over to the audience. My one criticism is that I don’t think I will be able to read the original now as it would be such a disappointment if it didn’t follow Hewer’s script.

Maybe Dick is pure fun and belly-ache-inducing laughter from start to finish, and yet, it’s also a great way to bring a dusty old story to life and make it accessible to everyone. The show is in London until the 23rd of March then goes around the country to thirty-four towns and cities around the UK between then and the end of June. If the show sails into your neck of the woods, then get those tickets bought or miss one of the funniest nights of theatre you’re ever likely to see.

5 Stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Herman Melville’s classic tale of revenge and retribution is retold in this inventive, comic retelling on the high seas from the company behind ‘Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show’ and ‘Dracula! One Bloody Fang After Another’.

Nantucket, 1841. Ishmael signs on to the Pequod, and witnesses the perils of nature, obsession, punning and physical comedy, as Captain Ahab conducts a reckless pursuit of the savage white whale, Moby Dick.

Hambledon Productions Presents
Maybe Dick
By John Hewer
Based on the novel ‘Moby-Dick’ by Herman Melville
Directed by Bruce Knight
19th – 23rd March 2024

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