To sermon, with love
Mon Jan 22 2007
Although Herman Melville is buried in the Bronx's Woodlawn Cemetery, his furrowed-brow ghost is currently haunting another borough's burial grounds. At Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, actor Richard Kirkwood is performing Father Mapple's sermon from Moby Dick—an approximately 40-minute rant and riff about Jonah, the Old Testament seafaring God shirker who becomes a leviathan's lunch. No amount of fire-and-brimstone could have thawed Saturday night's audience, but no one seemed to regret the trek through the dark cemetery's elaborate monuments. Kirkwood plays the seaman-gone-preacher with brittle vehemence, guiding his flock through the story of Jonah, who is eventually "vomited" by the whale back onto dry land. The performance caters more to American-lit fanatics and graveyard gawkers than to standard-fare churchgoers, but it does leave you with something to ponder as you trudge on to your own personal Pequod—most likely the R train. Kirkwood performs the second and third Saturdays of each month. Visit the Brooklyn Lyceum for details.