Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jack Aranson's stage play of Moby Dick

Through Netflix of all places, I was able to rent a DVD of a taping of the 1978 stage version of actor Jack Aranson's one-man play version of Moby Dick, directed by Paul Stanley.

I just don't get it.

This is a 2003 DVD release of a 1978 stage play. We can't even get some new movies on DVD and they put this out on DVD (for instance, I have been trying to track down a copy of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World starring Leonard Nimoy from the late 1990s but it has never been released on DVD--it boggles my mind).

The first thing you see on the disc is a title screen of a whale fluke with the words: "Moby Dick--American's greatest novel"--complete with whale song.

It's a one-man play. He plays all the characters, including just switching back and forth. The lines are wonderfully delivered. If you didn't know, you'd think it was a Shakespeare play. At least that gives credence to the wonderful language aspect of the book.

The one-man play is not a genre that I'm used to.

No matter how well acted it is, I'm still bored as I watch it. No matter how well delivered, or how much I personally am into this simply to write about it, I wonder who watches this stuff, who goes to the real theater for this, or who re-releases it on DVD in 2003, twenty-five years after the original production.

Am I the uncivilized one? Is this high class art that the bourgeois watch?

I mean, at least you know that a Hamlet soliloquy is going to end and the action of the play go on.

This actor really must love this completely. That is clear. Deciphering who is who is quite easy if you pay attention. I think he did a remarkable job with the material.

But it is the material that I ponder on. Besides some Twain and Poe, what else is delivered like this?

It is just fascinating that this is even out there.

I found this quote about the whole thing at

Update: Look for Jack Aranson's one-man stage play. A gem, and available on DVD.
"Years from now acting classes and scholars will be studying this film for its power in bringing the immortal words of Herman Melville to life." IMDB: Moby Dick (1978) (streaming trailer)

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