A fun and clever show

By: Apr. 02, 2024
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“This is all of me, right here”

Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy, a musical created by Eleanor Colville, Ro Suppa and Robbie Taylor Hunt and directed by Taylor Hunt, tells the story of Anne Bonny (Ro Suppa), an 18th-century woman who left her life on land behind to become a pirate. While the show does go into some of the actual history behind the infamous pirate, plenty of creative liberties are taken, making for a surprising and fun night.

We begin the show with a banger of an opening song, a mix of sea shanty and pop that throws us right into the middle of the action and “badass lady piracy.” Even though the music (orchestrated and directed by Erin Rydal and Simon McKenzi) is prerecorded, there are no issues, thanks to the sound design by Anna Short. The choreography by Sara Green is fun and does a great job working within the small space of the Soho Theatre’s Upstairs venue. 

Suppa does a great job showing the audience how Bonny struggles with their identity, trying to find their place in the world while falling in love with men and women along the way. They roundhouse kick their way out of their marriage to Charles (Robbie Taylor Hunt) and soon fall for the dastardly pirate captain Calico Jack (Eleanor Colville), a man who is a bit too proud of his gender and wants Bonny to dress as a woman when they are together in secret (Bonny has disguised themself as a man and has discovered that they quite like the clothes they’re wearing). 

But Bonny isn’t the only one with a secret identity - the parrot on the ship, played by Taylor Hunt, is actually a drag queen, Ivana Cracker! Taylor Hunt is a riot as Ivana and even has an incredible “I want” song with lyrics including, “Ivana be someone, Ivana be something.” The two are soon joined by “Mark” Read (Elizabeth Chu), a stowaway who Bonny quickly discovers is in the same situation as them - they are actually Mary, not Mark. Bonny then finds herself caught between Calico Jack and Mary, torn between the two people they love while also still discovering themself.

The set, designed by Caitlin Mawhinney, is a mix of fabrics representing sails and bright, glittery curtains that the cast duck behind to change. It is, as most fringe shows tend to be, simple yet effective. The lanterns spread throughout definitely add to the atmosphere and I loved how they changed along with the music, so credit to the lighting design by Catja Hamilton!

The costumes, also designed by Mawhinney, play an important role in the show, as they enable the characters to not only disguise themselves but show off their true selves depending on the situation at hand. I particularly love the costumes for Ivana Cracker and Calico Jack, but all of the characters have costumes that fit their personalities and blend well together. Another highlight includes Calico Jack’s “naked body,” a bodysuit with an octopus over his genitals that works perfectly. 

There are many meta moments throughout the show that add to the fun. Even when the performers are backstage preparing for the next scene, there are “weirdly specific ads” playing, including one brilliant one parodying the iconic “You wouldn’t steal a car” online piracy commercial. While not often used, the props throughout the show are simple yet hilarious.

One scene involving the Kraken is absolutely brilliant, mostly because of how silly the creature is. Another, in which Taylor Hunt plays three people at once by using three tiny bodies, two balloon heads and sticks for arms and legs nearly had me in tears, not including how well Taylor Hunt is able to switch between the three as needed!

Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy is a fun and clever show that both honours the legacy of Anne Bonny and also transforms her tale into one jam-packed with modern references and sea shanty remixes. It is a show full of queer joy and plenty of laughs that I hope to see on a larger stage in the future!

Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy runs until 13 April at Soho Theatre.

Photo Credit: Cam Harle