The Tragedy That Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo

Aug 7 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆    Energetic

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53): Fri 4 – Sat 12 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Tragedy That Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo, from Dead Parrot Collective at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, is an unsubtle, rollicking romp that will give pleasure to many.

Despite the title stating this is a tragedy, it is really a swashbuckling slapstick tale of pirates, shipwrecks and treasure, dispatched with boundless energy, much falling about, breaking of the fourth wall, inventive use of props and silly songs.

A scene from The Tragedy That Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo. Pic: Dead Parrot Collective

If this all sounds like it should be a children’s show, it has to be said this has a great deal in common with that genre. There is not much – apart from some occasional swearing – to demonstrate that this is a late night show. However, the relish with which it is performed makes it a very good fit for the more alcoholically refreshed audience.

Connor McCord’s script takes a scattergun approach, but there are enough good jokes to sustain the momentum. Some of it is predictable – there is even, as the company’s name suggests, a role for a parrot whose status as alive or dead is a bone of contention – but it all comes across much better than it might.

McCord also plays Jack the quartermaster (and several other roles) with gusto and presence, which is true of the other performers. Conor Ferns attacks the role of an aristocrat (with a penchant for cannibalism) with genuine glee. James Sharp’s barking bombast as Captain Ennis never quite conceals the character’s deep feelings of inadequacy. Paul Tomlinson’s chef Jolly also has a melancholy edge alongside the hilarity.

genuine versatility

The excellent Ashlyn Bourelle, meanwhile, shows genuine versatility in a selection of roles, including one scene in which she plays both parts at once.

Grace Phillips manages to contain the madness with skill as director, while Erin Clark’s technical work adds greatly to the effect.

It does not all come off – the opening minutes feature too much in the way of excess energy, uncontrolled movement and shouted, garbled dialogue in silly voices, before it settles down. Billed as lasting an hour and a quarter, it comes in as nearer an hour and a half; there can be little doubt that shaving off a third of its running time would make for a much better and tighter production. At times it certainly verges on the self-indulgent, and playing to the audience takes over.

The more sombre elements of the story provide a welcome change of pace, but are not always seamlessly integrated into the comedy.

However, the fun wins out. This is one of those shows that gives three-star productions a good name. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and its audiences will have a whale of a time.

Running time: One hour and 25 minutes (no interval)
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Grand Theatre), Nicolson St, EH8 9DW (Venue 53)
Friday 4 – Saturday 12 August 2023
Daily at 10.15 pm
Tickets and details Book here

Dead Parrot Collective links:

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Instagram: @thedeadparrotcollective



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