Donal O'Kelly's solo play about a heroic ship journey is a far more successful aural experience than a visual one.
The tale he tells, derived from true events, certainly has the potential to be powerfully told. The heroic adventure of the whaling ship Catalpa, which sailed from Massachusetts in 1875 on a daring mission to free six Irishman from an Australian penal colony, is a seafaring saga that is rife with heroic perseverance and political intrigue. O'Kelly chooses to frame the story as a screenwriter's pitch to movie executives, a conceit that frees him to tell the story in baldly visual terms but which limits his capacity to inhabit its characters more than fleetingly.
Fixed on stage in front of a microphone, O'Kelly assumes a range of characters -- among them the sea captain George Anthony and the wife he left behind in wait who could not be told the true objective of the voyage -- but not one of them can be said to spring to life with any dimension. O'Kelly's portrayals amount to mimicking how they would look if we were seeing them in a big screen version of the story, which proves not to be a particularly enlightening approach.