Joe Forbrich returns with a whale of a play


The Vineyard Playhouse will feature a new work by an old friend in its Monday Night Special series.

The Whaleship Essex, written by Joe Forbrich, is a classic tale of survival, based on the true story of the Essex, rammed and sunk by a whale in 1820, while whaling in the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Forbrich will join several actors based in New York, and many veteran actors here on Martha’s Vineyard, to stage a reading of the play at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, one of the venues being used while the playhouse is under renovation.

The reading, directed by Peter Zinn, begins at 7 pm.

The script revels in the similarities between the language of sailing, whaling, and the theater.

“I’m going to pull the curtain back and show the ropes and pulleys of both theatrical and the nautical world,” Mr. Forbrich said. “It’s an allegory to our quest for oil. There will be points in the play when people say ‘whoa, this is really relevant to today.'”

Mr. Forbrich will be familiar to Vineyard audiences for his role in FLY, a play based on the lives of four Tuskegee Airmen. The production had two successful runs at the Vineyard Playhouse, in 2009, and 2010.

Mr. Forbrich has just finished an assignment as an understudy in the acclaimed Broadway production of Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks.

He counts a week in June as the highlight of his acting life. While preparing for a reading of The Whaleship Essex he got a call telling him he would be stepping in for an injured actor that evening. His Broadway debut before a packed house went flawlessly.

A few days later, Mr. Hanks, along with many other members of the Lucky Guy cast, staged a reading of Mr. Forbrich’s new play at New York’s prestigious Player’s Club.

“And, the Mets beat the Yankees four times in a row,” Mr. Forbrich said.