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Piramania! The Swashbuckling Pirate Musical
Published on Monday, 16 August 2010

4 stars

C (venue website)
4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 Aug, 8:30pm (9:55pm)
Reviewed by Lee Zhuo Zhao

Piramania has all the quintessential ingredients of the light-hearted Fringe comedy musical. There's a silly plot involving pirates, treasure, murder, and incest. There are accents galore put on solely for laughs, Anna Brook-Mitchell's Welsh twang being far the most hilarious. And the show is fully aware that it's a comedy musical on the Fringe - with an overall effect something akin to Monty Python meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

But then, the team behind Piramania should know the formula, as they have plenty of experience to call on. This year, they're doing two different musicals on alternating days; Piramania is brand new, but their other production, Plague, was a sell-out success during its first outing on the Fringe in 2008. Having taken in both shows (I saw Plague during its original run) I can unequivocally tell you that, if you enjoyed that one, you'll enjoy this one too.

For there are some very, very good things about Piramania. The narrator was an ingenious stage device, keeping the audience entertained during long scene changes. Since the cast are all drama and musical theatre school graduates, I cannot criticise the singing; everyone involved was uniformly good. They also bring an infectious energy to every role, which lets them get away with just about every joke, no matter how clichéd. But special mention has to go to Tom Turner at the back of the stage on keyboard - he provides the excellent sole musical accompaniment, and was still valiantly playing whilst most of the patrons were filing for the exit.

Despite this, Piramania is not without its flaws. The fourth wall takes a heavy beating, probably too much for my liking: it all gets too pantomime at times. Then there's the length: the show is just shy of 90 minutes, yet I didn't feel they used this extra time well. The story itself is a little light, lacking much on the side. With a bit of trimming, you could easily tell this story in the usual hour-long slot.

Still, the script does have the occasional flash of brilliance: some great one-liners, a nice twist to the tale and one wonderful "Ooooh!" moment when I realised how a part of the plot jigsaw fell into place. At the end of it all, I realised I had been laughing most of the time... and I left with a big grin on my face. And that, after all, is the most important thing.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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