A man comes to in a room that contains a baby grand piano, its sides and top covered in a multicolored mosaic of post-it notes. Stranger still is the cassette player he finds duct-taped to his wrinkled clothes. He presses play and hears his own voice say, "Your name is Nathan. You are suffering memory loss. You are listening to a set of instructions you put together to help you continue. Do not take the tape out of this machine for any reason. Do not take this tape recorder from around your neck." The voice then reminds Nathan he is a composer, attempting to complete a work he's been writing. Its subject: Moby Dick.
But the harrowing premise of this 2000 Obie Award-winning work unfolds into a wickedly funny satirical critique of modern and classical opera as well as a meditation on identity, obsession and art. Nathan finds the threads left for him and dives into the passion—and madness—of Melville's Father Mapple and Captain Ahab, singing and playing new sections of the work to an enigmatic witness. Do tide and time take all from this desperate man? Find out at performances Wednesday–Sunday. Tickets start at $25; for a taste of what you're getting into, see the video at bit.ly/reWhales. —Byron Woods