Two pirates fight over a one-eyed, one legged parrot. Rather than being the set-up for a bad joke you’d hear at the pub, this is instead the setup for joke after joke after joke in Parry Riposte Production’s Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates, which opened this week at The Gladstone.
Should you see it?
One pirate may have killed the parrot. The other, being its owner, is not so happy about that. The captain (more on him later) has tied the two pirates up, pre-show mind you, tossed them in the crow’s nest, and plans on leaving them up there until they work out their differences.
You may have seen Margo MacDonald in the recent Age of Arousal at the Gladstone, in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the Great Canadian Theatre company, or in any number of shows by A Company of Fools. You may have seen Richard Gélinas in Stones In His Pockets at The Gladstone, in The 39 Steps also at the Gladstone, or in any number of shows by A Company of Fools.
Both rank among Ottawa’s funniest actors and here they’re a pair of feckin’ pirates in a show seven years in the making.
Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates is unscripted and improvised. The two characters, named Her and Him in the program, argue and fight and share stories through the somewhere over an hour run-time. They’re given prompts, voted on by the audience before show time, to give them topics of conversation. This is done seamlessly by way of cards lit up off stage that the actors need only glance at.
Being an improvised show, every night is going to be completely different. Ours featured, among other things, blindness-inducing mermaids, a crazy Scottish captain who liked to ambush diddle his crew in their bunks (I’ll leave you to define diddle how you please), and a pirate whose ambition was to be “half-fake Irish, half shark.”
In the wake of not being able to tell you what you’re going to see, I’ll instead answer the only two questions that matter; are they funny and do they have good chemistry? The answer in both cases is a resounding yes.
MacDonald and Gélinas have such an energized rapport that they’re able to banter and play off of each other without missing a beat. If you didn’t know better, you would not guess that they were making it up as they went.
As for funny, my face hurt from all the smiling and laughing, which is all I can ask from a comedy. Even the unspoken moments, just physically reacting to what the other has said, made for some strong laughs. (Also, for added difficulty, the two spend 90% of the show time tied up and standing in place.)
The background narrative, built around the mystery of the maybe-murdered parrot, is also well constructed. There are prompts that come up throughout the show that force the duo to turn back towards it in a very natural way as Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates winds it way to its sure to surprise you conclusion.
What would a pirate show be without some Swashbuckling swordplay, you might ask? Well Much Ado About Feckin’ Pirates has you covered there, too.
Besides, how often will you get to see a show with Feckin’ in the title?
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought. What were the highlights of the nights you were there? What were the moments that had you laughing loudest? Join the discussion and let me know in the comments below.
Much Ado About Feckin Pirates runs at The Gladstone theatre until March 29th. Find out more in our show article.