EFR - Reviews of Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls

Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls

Mon 24th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Megan Erwin

at 10:25 on 25th Aug 2015

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Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls is the sequel to TapTap theatre’s first instalment, The Sands of Time, and sees pirate Captain Morgan (Joe Newton) and his trusty first mate Hammond (Edward Richards) back on the unruly seas, this time in possession of the Sands of Time. Morgan and Hammond soon have new challenges to meet as the Captain gets his soul stolen by an evil time master and they have to run of the gauntlet of a deranged outlaw, seductive sirens and a couple of intractable giants in order to get in back.

This is a phenomenal piece of physical comedy. The entire cast – which must number at least twenty characters – is played by Newton and Richards on a bare stage with nothing to aid them but a pirate costume and accompaniment by fantastic musician David Ridley armed with a violin, harmonium and some bells. They can conjure up swimming in the sea by just waving an arm in front of their faces (which is skilled - I tried it when I got home and it didn’t have quite the same effect) and switch seamlessly to riding horses, rowing dinghy or being a sexy siren – or even all at the same time!

The synchronicity between Newton and Richards is a wonder to behold. Their comedic timing is impeccable and as they inhabit various places and people simultaneously they throw themselves back and forth across the stage at a frenetic pace, without ever slipping once. While ridiculous amounts of rehearsal could only achieve this kind of seamless spectacle, it never feels belaboured.

If I was to level one criticism at Captain Morgan 2, it would be that at points it’s perhaps slightly too frenetic, too manic and frankly confusing. There is a bewildering array of characters and accents, which is very impressive, but also slightly overwhelming. The plot is meandering – or perhaps I should say sprinting in lots of different directions – and while it all comes together ingenious ways at the end, at times it can be confusing which is frustrating.

While the sheer spectacle and cleverness of Captain Morgan blew me away, I should also say that it is very, very funny. It’s sort of like Pirates of the Caribbean on speed with Keira Knightley played by a bearded bloke – do you need any more encouragement than that?

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Josie Finlay

at 11:48 on 25th Aug 2015

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Captain Morgan 2: Sea of Souls is a riotous escapade performed by three young whippersnappers so full of energy that it seems likely they might explode or take off at any point during the show, leaving nothing but an imaginary horse and a motley selection of accents behind them.

In the course of their one lively hour on stage, Joe Newton (Captain Morgan) and Ed Richards (First Mate Hammond) somehow find the time to inhabit over 40 characters, and flick from one to the next in a matter of milliseconds. From pirate to shifty Frenchman to fawning Midwestern belle, Newton and Richards have got a solid range of impressions expertly covered, my particular favourite being Newton’s squeaky helium-voiced Alice, whose girlish giggles juxtapose blissfully with the actor’s bushy beard.

Using a fairly bare stage, the company relies on their fantastic versatility to construct their surroundings, and from dusty cowboy territory to deep blue sea, each one is utterly convincing.

Sea Of Souls is remarkable for its cartoonish theatricality – Newton and Richards move with Tom and Jerry-esque agility, and with the same style of extreme and flawless reactions. Zooming forwards and backwards through land, water and time warps, neither of the two misses a single beat.

This effect is all made possible by David Ridley on the violin and ankle-bells. He is by no means a side-note, as the show owes much of its momentum and zing to his intuitive and eclectic accompaniment. A neat, unexpected burst of barbershop harmony towards the end of the play is a particular highlight.

All this breathless action causes the plot itself to become slightly hard to follow. The story is fast, surreal and at times random and nonsensical, all elements which I’m sure are deliberate but also meant that much of the time I didn’t know what was really going on. The script is good, with some fairly amusing wordplay, but none shines through as especially memorable.

The charm of Captain Morgan 2 lies in its slapstick and versatility – sometimes you won’t quite understand what’s happening, but you’ll also realise that for the most part it doesn’t really matter. Watching Newton, Richards and Ridley working so seamlessly as a team will, for most, be entertainment enough.

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