Innocent When You Dream brings puppets, masks, old-time stage effects and animated projections to Ottawa stages all the way form Austin Texas in a tale about a man driven mad in the belly of a whale with only two books to read.
Should you see it?
Innocent When You Dream is about a guy trapped in a whale’s belly with only Moby Dick and Don Quixote to read, and only an albino Kermit the Frog as a friend. He is ecstatic when an audience turns up (also eaten by the whale) who he can entertain and tell his story to. From his analogies to and brief re-enactments of Moby Dick and Don Quixote, we learn that the man has recently gone through a bad break-up and being trapped in the belly of a whale is metaphor for his depression.
Sadly, Innocent When You Dream falls completely flat. The enactments of Moby Dick and Don Quixote were forgettable and for the main throughline of a piece like this to work (guy depressed at his break-up) you need to feel for the performer and want him to rise above. Something I never felt at all for Zeb L. West. I could see it playing, with some polish, in the hands of somebody who can channel Robin Williams’ ability to draw sympathy from you, but West just didn’t bring that hopeless schlubb quality.
As is, Innocent When you Dream never roped me in to care at all and I was just bored. When the highlight of the show is the closing musical number, getting laughs mostly because it drops an F-bomb in every line, that’s probably not a good thing.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think? Did Innocent When You Dream draw you deep into the belly of the whale? What did you enjoy about the production? Tell me in the comments below.