Captain Morgan and The Sands of Time

Thu 28th February – Sat 2nd March 2013

reviews

Josie Benge

at 17:41 on 1st Mar 2013

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Given the quality of Tap Tap Theatre’s previous offerings, as well as this play’s ambitious tagline - ‘2 actors. 30 characters. 1 musician. A tale of pirates on a quest for the secrets of time’ - I had high hopes for the new company’s latest venture. As I shuffled into the crammed Wardrobe Theatre, I was slightly concerned that perhaps my expectations were too great and I was setting myself up for disappointment. I needn’t have worried. Ben Behren’s ‘Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time’ is an unashamedly exuberant, raucous barrel of laughs that had everyone thoroughly captivated from start to finish.

The intimacy of The Wardrobe provides an ideal setting for such swashbuckling adventures. The closely packed, hotchpotch seating area creates the atmosphere of an old-fashioned tavern, in which the audience are gathered around to listen to the two drunken pirates. From there, the theatre’s tiny stage is opened up to a labyrinth of imaginative spaces from battling ships, to perilous caves, to the nineties TV show 'Gladiators'. The plot is fast-paced and multifaceted, yet manages never to lose the audience along the way. The story as a whole is a hilarious spoof of the adventure genre which self-consciously mocks its own narrative techniques. Ben Behren’s comic genius shines through at every point of the script, which is packed with silly innuendos and bizarrely witty one-liners, never failing to surprise and tickle the audience.

In addition to the script, the play’s originality and charm comes from, of course, its lack of material resources, instead relying on the two actors almost entirely. Ed Richards and Joe Newton’s performances connect to create a visually astounding display of versatility – each different comical character is played with brilliant energy, accuracy and confidence. One aspect which really stands out is the innovative way in which they physically embody not only human characters, but also monstrous creatures and inanimate objects. This attests to the play’s fantastically creative direction as well as the actors’ polished teamwork - their dialogue and movements are perfectly synchronized whether they are playing the ship’s sail, Siamese Twins or a six-eyed monster. They also manage to smoothly recreate film-like temporal effects, such as flashback and slow motion, with farcically amusing results. Similarly, the violin playing helps to accelerate or slow the action’s pace, and adds a lively, shanty-like feel to the story.

Coming out of the theatre, I felt a buzz which reminded me of the carefree joy of make-believe childhood games, when hours of fun could be created out of thin air. ‘Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time’ is a brilliant example of the power of human imagination, and confirms Tap Tap Theatre’s place as one of the most exciting and talented young theatre companies around.

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