Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time

Sat 3rd – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Florence Strickland

at 09:31 on 6th Aug 2013

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Hazah! Finally, finally a belter of comedic timing, skill and my most overused word of the season, panache – this should be said with a raised eyebrow and a smoking jacket. Tap Tap Theatre’s ‘Captain Morgan and The Sands of Time’ is the best comedy performance that I have seen at the Fringe so far. A Maritime Melodrama chock-full of combustive energy and and versatility.

Ben Behrens’ script and directing used two top notch actors and a small space to create ships, and sometimes the entire crew. The puns were rife. This play of course would not have been what it was without Joe Newton’s Captain Morgan and Ed Richard’s Hammond. Their exaggerated facial and physical expressions were hysterical, and their energy ranged from high to higher. In the fight scenes, the two actors provided the sounds effects as well. There was no need for scenery – they were the scenery. There was no need for other actors – they were the other actors. At one point, they were playing themselves, their future selves, and two pursuing skeletons. Of course, the trusty musician on the fiddle and accordion charged the jokes with further hilarity, playing almost constantly throughout. It was the unity between Joe Newton and Ed Richards, anticipating each other so exactly, that really carried the performance. Their talent was equal, but they both brought totally different elements to their characters.

The room at The Fiddler’s Elbow was absolutely packed, and the laughter constant. It was a nice touch to the script that the venue itself was re-charactised as the greatest tavern on the high seas. This is a true example of a Fringe success. Admittedly, when I heard the title of the play I was being sent to, I despaired that I would be watching a children’s ‘bonanza’, with essential audience participation. However, all though there were a few children in the audience, it was mostly comprised of people my age. The humour was clever, but not complicated or pretentious. It is a show that would appeal to all ages.

Plunder and pillage – or just walk, it’s free – your way to the show!

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Anjali Joseph

at 09:38 on 6th Aug 2013

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Tap Tap Theatre’s ‘Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time’ was, in a word, remarkable. Two actors, two chairs and one musician create an entire world of characters and locations at high speed, including Poseidon and Shakespeare, a prehistoric land and the set of ITV’s ‘Gladiators’. Written by Ben Behrens, acted by the chameleon-like Joe Newton (Captain Morgan) and Edward Richards (First Mate Hammond), and scored by Davey J. Ridley, this performance was incredibly slick, and the swift agility with which Newton and Richards changed character is a testament to their incredible capacity for physical comedy. Both were so skilled in facial contortion that they became almost unrecognisable with each character change. At times there was something almost Pythonesque about them, and their energy and silliness was infectious.

Behrens’ creations were a delight in themselves. The crew of Captain Morgan’s ship were well-conceived and entertaining, particularly gap yah medical student-turned-pirate, Quentin, and the Man with the Mysterious Past. Very occasionally it seemed as if some of the jokes were a little too predictable, and probably did not require spelling out, but this is a criticism on micro-level. Mostly, the writing was imaginative: Horrible Histories meets HItchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with a touch of Mighty Boosh.

Especially given how minimal the set was, the effects achieved were truly impressive, most notably the manipulation of both the actors' voices to create Poseidon’s demonic boom. Indeed, I was left wondering if the high-tech sound and light systems used by other shows would actually just be a hindrance for the breakneck progression of this production. Parts of the show were so well-honed that they seemed almost instinctive, such as Newton and Richards’ eyes moving from side to side in perfect synchronisation. Quite aside from clearly being a talented musician, accompanying the duo on the fiddle and accordion, Ridley’s score was incredibly witty. In addition to composing the score, he produced a surprising variety of sound effects using just the body of his fiddle and manipulated a number of popular classical themes to provide leitmotifs for the characters.

All the audience could do was sit, completely enthralled, as they were subject to an array of characters at mind-boggling speed and. By the end of the hour both actors were utterly drenched in sweat, and not surprisingly. The level of energy and skill demonstrated in ‘Captain Morgan’ is astounding, and the end result, outstanding.

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