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The Pirate’s Curse | Drayton Arms Theatre

It is 1952 and self-proclaimed mystery solver Lady Iris Bungle (Phoebe Rose) is visiting her aunt Persephone Ruse (Louisa Moore) on a remote Scottish island. She is joined by her cousin Dicky Hardwick (David Hennem), who is rehearsing for a starring role in lecherous producer Rudy Cockspur’s (Adam Jennings) Hamlet the Musical. But when the ghost of buccaneer Wee Jock McDangle attempts to disrupt their summer, Iris, Dicky and Persephone’s ward Bing Beecroft (Monty Morrison) must find out whether he means them harm.

From the island setting to the liberal use of the word “spiffing”, The Pirate’s Curse, currently playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre, has more than a touch of the Famous Five about it, while the spectre haunting the heroes adds a dash of Scooby Doo.

The show is presented by the Chanticleer Players, who act as both cast and creative team. Louisa Moore is both writer and director, while Monty Morrison choreographs and Jennifer Grace, as well as playing housekeeper Gaye Lich, acts as producer, assisted by David Hennem.

Moore’s script relies heavily on innuendo for laughs, often to good effect, while the Hamlet connection is cleverly woven in as well as being a great source of comedy. However, the show does struggle at times with its pacing, and can also veer too far into telling rather than showing. This is partially a function of the bare bones set, with description needed to set the scene, and partially a result of the plot being advanced often by means of Iris’s diary entries.  

Jennifer Grace, as loyal McDangle servant Gaye Lich, steals every scene she is part of with her complete disdain for the wee English buffoons wreaking havoc in her home. David Hennem is also a standout as closeted thespian Dicky Hardwick, particularly in scenes where he rehearses Hamlet the Musical. Indeed, the Hamlet scenes are some of the best in the show in terms of comedy, and I would happily watch a full production of Hamlet the Musical.

There is good use of lighting throughout, as it flickers, turns blue, and sometimes goes out entirely to herald the arrival of the pirate’s ghost, helping to build a spooky atmosphere and ramp up the tension.

Monty Morrison’s choreography is also worthy of a mention, moving from sword fighting to tap dancing to ceilidh with ease, and often adding physical comedy to the scenes.

The Pirate’s Curse will appeal to lovers of the cosy mystery genre, and anyone nostalgic for the adventure stories of their youth. Well-acted and very funny, it makes for an enjoyable night out despite some areas for improvement.

The Pirate’s Curse runs at the Drayton Arms Theatre until 18 May. For more information and tickets, follow the link here.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (3*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by


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