Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Piracy – Comedy on the High Cs
Questing Vole Productions
Venue: Venue 45, 63 Jeffrey Street
Captain Pugwash meets Carry On Sailor with occasional flashes of The Navy Lark and Gilbert and Sullivan in an uproarious hour of nautical naughtiness, plotting pirates, suspicious Spaniards and alliterative acuity. And some good tunes as well!
Captain Trumpeter is in charge of a motley crew that would have trouble dealing with a rowing boat, never mind the three-masted sailing rig they are supposed to put to sea in. The First Lieutenant is a girl in bloke’s clothing, his seamen don’t know their starboard from their port and the ship, in a state of some disrepair, is about to undergo an inspection by the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Buckingham Flashnob and his dashing daughter, the Lady Vanity. Plotting their downfall are a swarthy band of pirates with a difference – no pirate king here, we’ve a pirate queen in charge and this wouldn’t be a pirate adventure without a few random Spaniards thrown in to spice things up.
That’s probably as much of the plot as you need to know as confusion is piled on dubiety in an hour of slapstick, prat falls, burlesque, double entendre, innuendo, pirate jokes all linked together with some slick choreography, witty ditties and a tightly written and entertaining script.
Characters and caricatures abound. We have the drippy captain, a randy Admiral (played very much in the style of Blackadder’s Lord Flashheart), a restoration Barbie ingénue in Lady Vanity, a seductress of a Pirate Queen, a rival Pirate “King”, Freddy (a camp, Eddie Izzard meets Prince Charles character, nicely executed by Rory Morrison) and a rather sweet politically philosophising pirate-cum-anarchist called Firebeard (carried off with aplomb by Efi Gauthier). We also had an emergency stand in as Antonio – the Stage Manager gamely launching forth (with script on occasions) in place of the original actor who was, to use the nautical expression, confined to the heads.
Song lyrics are very cleverly put together, the tunes catchy and eminently hummable and, as an ensemble, they produced a pleasant sound with some nice harmonies. Things were apt to go a bit overboard in one or two of the duets but never badly enough to have one reaching for the seasick pills. Costumes were stylish and, for King Freddy in particular, suitably flamboyant. We had chases, lovers caught in flagrante, sword fights, romance and bucket loads of silliness in this thoroughly entertaining hour from a group dipping their toes in the waters of the Fringe for the first time. Let’s hope they set sail again for Scotland next year with another similarly silly offering.