When I was invited to review some of the Clapham Fringe shows, I could hardly resist a concert performance of a new musical about female pirates.
Burnt Chip Theatre is a new London-based theatre company, specialising in writing and producing new, thought-provoking musical theatre. Most Notorious is a lovely choice. Written by Daisy Horan and composed by Ollie Clark there is a lot of meat to this story, which is packed with humour and engaging characters. Being a concert performance, and the Bread and Roses being a small venue, sometimes the music over-powered the singing, which made it challenging to catch all the lyrics, although I was still able to follow the story.
Sasha Colville is in fine voice as our key narrator and protagonist Anne Bonny. Hers is a very assured performance, bringing Anne’s rebellious and restless nature to life with a wonderful conviction. Anne is a character blessed with swagger.
Isla Jeffery both directs the show and gives a very engaging and likeable performance as Mary Read. The love story between her and Joel Smith’s Will Petty brings a real sense of warmth and heart to the piece. I really enjoyed the chemistry between these two characters.
James Dance is convincingly arrogant as our pirate captain Jack Rackham. This is a character that I feel there is a real opportunity to explore further in a more fully fleshed out production of this musical. Particularly the dynamic between him and Anne, as his need for control is such an important plot-driving element.
Toby Mugford is contagiously funny and energetic as the villain of the piece, Marcus Hume. Another character that could do with further exploration. Particularly in the final scenes of the musical. Given his pursuit of the pirates, it would have been nice to revisit him once he catches up with them. I felt his absence at this point of the show, as I would have really enjoyed seeing him and Anne meet.
All in all there is a lot to enjoy in this show. There is a good mix of rousing musical numbers, with more tender, emotional pieces. Being a concert production, the links between the songs are understandably limited, but were nonetheless sufficient to keep me engaged with the story. Clearly there would be scope to flesh out these story building elements more in a full musical production. Isla Jeffery’s direction does ensure that the key character dynamics and humour land well.
As I saw the final performance, it is too late for you to see this particular incarnation of the show, but I’m sure that Burnt Chip Theatre have big plans for it, and I for one, would interested to see how this show develops and evolves.