EFR - Reviews of Captain Morgan 1: The Sands of Time

Captain Morgan 1: The Sands of Time

Sun 23rd – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Louis Shankar

at 10:11 on 26th Aug 2015

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This is a truly wonderful show, the kind that deservedly flourishes at The Fringe. It’s bizarre, imaginative and hilarious, to an extent I’ve never before seen. A dramatis personae of over 40 characters was played by just two actors, the equally fabulous Joe Newton and Ed Richards; there were no props or set, other than two chairs, with the only embellishment being David Ridley, a musician with a violin and some bells (although that description rather undersells his terrific performance).

This may sound like a slightly stupid premise but it works perfectly. A simple and increasingly surreal story unravels as Captain Morgan (Newton) and his first mate Hammond (Richards) go on a quest for the Sands of Time, travelling the seven seas and encountering everything from walking skeletons to Poseidon himself. The plot itself isn’t particularly remarkable but this doesn’t matter: the script by Ben Behrens is filled with nuanced humour, one liners and incredibly clever, self-referential punchlines.

The most impressive part is definitely the performances: both actors effortlessly flit between dozens of parts, creating distinct characters with their voices and stage presence. They pull off conversations and chase scenes, mime sword fights and an episode of Gladiator, become dinosaurs and a boat, fire canons in slow motion and so much more. And, if you commit to the performance, it all becomes startlingly real.

Although aimed at children, there are jokes suitable for everyone. The slapstick, caricatured humour is hilarious no matter how old or young you are; not a minute went by when the audience wasn’t laughing at something. Despite this, the performance never faltered; they knew how to work the audience and reap the rewards without breaking character. The only time the audience got in the way was at the very end, when the amount of applause kept them from plugging the sequel.

This is the most enjoyable show I’ve seen at the Fringe this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I left with a smile on my face that took a long time to fade, and very quickly purchased a ticket for Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls on the following day. I didn’t want to miss out; neither should you.

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Becky Wilson

at 16:31 on 26th Aug 2015

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Captain Morgan: The Sands of Time showcases everything that makes the Fringe so unique. This comedy is solid proof that you don’t need vast quantities of money or connections to put on an absolutely incredible show. In fact, the fizzing creativity and electric wit of Joe Newton, who plays Captain Morgan, and Ed Richards (First Mate Hammond) is enough to pack venues for the entire month.

I’m still reeling at the scale of production that three men alone manage to deliver. With the aid of merely a couple of chairs and violin they portray 44 distinctive characters, and countless adventures across sea, land and time. It is the story of Captain Morgan, master pirate and his trusty First Mate Hammond as they embark on a dangerous quest for the magical Sands of Time.

This comedy manages to genuinely appeal to all ages. Newton and Richards integrate fresh satire with a flourish, while also pulling off the utterly bizarre brand of humour that children adore. For instance, a medical student joins our hero’s ship (“actually, I’m on my gap yah – I’m like totally interested in pirate subculture”) while later on in the plot, an unexplained onion manages to save the day. They even make ingenious references to both the cheesy gameshow Gladiators and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet without detracting from the fast-paced plot.

The spectrum of these actors’ abilities is staggering beyond words. Within a few seconds, they switch to extremes of voice and physicality, evoking strong and diverse reactions from the audience. Poseidon terrifies us, while ‘The Man with a Mysterious Past’ makes us snort as a clear nod to the tired clichés of Hollywood. And when the endearing, highly-sensitive sidekick to evil privateer Renshaw cries “why do the good always get stabbed in the neck?”, sounds of sympathy flow around the room.

Despite all this, the show would be nothing without its musical accompaniment, which is played live by Dave Ridley. From the big bouncing adventure motif which indicates every scene change, to even the tiniest attention to detail, like the knock of wood required for a peg leg, it is beautifully played and allows the piece to flow.

Captain Morgan: The Sands of Time is genuinely impossible to fault. But don’t just take my word for it - the fact that this comedy also has a hit sequel running at the Fringe indicates that this is something most definitely worth watching. This show is a complete triumph of the imagination and you should catch it while you still can!

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