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The Melville Gallery at the South Street Seaport Museum is the perfect setting for an old-fashioned mermaid tale, and Seth Moore’s SeaWife is full to the gunwales with the makings of one: a cursed ship, a mysterious woman, her briny ghost, murder on the high seas, and the big one that got away. This Naked Angels “concert play” stars the undeniably talented musicians of the indie–folk rock group the Lobbyists, who sail through a musical tempest of rousing drinking songs, mournful ballads, and rock anthems with brio (they also do some neat insect sounds and bird calls). But once under way, the production is soon at sea in the close quarters of Jason Sherwood’s maritimey-bric-a-brac set, hauling in clichés faster than a trawling net scoops fish.
Luckily, every plot twist is an occasion for the Lobbyists to jam out to another original number. The music is by far the best part of this soggy melodrama, where the baddies are pirates and whales, the good guys orphaned children turned earnest men, and the lady in question fashions pretty birds from tree branches to calm the spirits of the dead Seminole (when the Moby Dick theme inexplicably slams into the Florida coast). Liz Carlson’s direction relies on mime to conjure harpoonings, drownings, and lashings on deck — but that’s as allusive as this tortured romance gets.
By the Lobbyists and Seth Moore
South Street Seaport Museum’s Melville Gallery
213 Water Street