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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

Ovalhouse presents

The Pirate Project

 

 

Lucy Foster in coproduction with Improbable

Created by The Company

Directed by Lucy Foster

Designed by Philip Eddolls

Lighting Design by Fabiana Piccioli

Composition and Sound Design by Nick Powell

Dramaturgy by Matilda Leyser & Phelim McDermott

Video Design by Ian William Galloway

 

Ovalhouse Downstairs

 

15 May – 2 June 2012

 

 

On the industrial, spacious stage Downstairs at the Ovalhouse three buzzing screens with a loose maritime theme sit centre stage. Through the course of the evening they will show seascapes, video diaries and a very convincing simulated storm.  Three pirates in black t-shirts emblazoned with pink skull and crossbones are energetic and keen to connect with the audience and encourage everyone to make prototypical pirate noises and release their inner “argh”. This stab at audience engagement is generally well received and promotes involvement from the very start of this fast paced and multi dimensional performance. The actors are introduced as themselves; Chloé Déchery, Lucinka Eisler and Simone Kenyon and in a search for meaning take on role models whose stories they then inhabit, playing famous pirates Ching Shih, Mary Read and Anne Bonney respectively. Under these personas and decked out in hilariously haphazard pirate garb they traverse all manner of womanly tribulations, from deceased spouses, to childbirth on the high seas, to the peak challenge of forging a friendship amidst power-struggles and deference for one another.

Video montages of women with wisdom and experience to impart are inspired. Editing and design merge for heart-warming ends as these women are questioned about their experiences of, and opinions on everything from childbearing to multitasking. Said video clips are dotted throughout the production, and are woven into the action on stage through the pirates asking them the questions they answer or just standing transfixed, listening as intently as the audience. The natural wit which oozes form the real-life question answer session is complimented by more constructed humour in the pirates’ portrayals. Mary Read has a secret weapon in the form of an electric blue bra which is revealed to disarm contenders more readily than any sword might, drawing much laughter from the audience.

The set, designed by Philip Eddolls, is easily manipulated by the actors to alter sense of space and in one particularly engaging scene Mary Read swims with a shark behind a screen which at one moment depicts an evening sky, and the next, deep sea. The performance takes on something of an open-mic night feel at times, when the actors or their pirate counterparts take up microphones and comment on the misadventures of the others. The actors also assume the roles of significant others within the pirates’ lives, and there are some riotous sex scenes involving much clamber and clamour.  Although outward on-stage journeys of self discovery are nothing new, and are sometimes tired, the design of this production and its innovative touches give the performance many dimensions, which hold interest, and culminates in a touching closing scene. The Pirate Project runs as part of Ovalhouse’s “Outlaws Season” which, with a dynamic programme, aims to tell “stories of people who voluntarily cross the line, what they see when they look back, and what they can’t let go of.”

 

 

Box Office: 020 7582 7680
Oval House
52-54 Kennington Oval, London, SE11 SSW
Tickets: £15/U26, Equity, BECTU £10/ Concessions £7.50
www.ovalhouse.com
 
 

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