Pirates are a treasure chest of ideas for an impro troupe, and new company B’n’C theatre plunders those riches with the greed of this show’s own unwashed but feckless scalliwags.
The show starts off with a crew of pirates stranded in still water, dreaming of big scores or just swapping stories about their past. The device is ideal to the improvised format because it organically gives the improvisers extra time to develop sketches, as well as an excuse to take a moment to reorient when an interaction stalls.
The show is also helped greatly by strong musical accompaniment, which fills the empty moments and sets the right tone for when the troupe gets going. The shanties in particular were infectious and had chunks of the audience swaying along.
Before the show the captain asked the audience to throw out prompts such as lucky objects or sea monsters, and the audience provided the crew with a lucky rabbit and the threat of sirens. This translated into a criminal investigation for the missing rabbit and one particularly dim crew member lopping off ears to protect his fellows from a potential summons by siren.
The prompts and material will be different every night, but at the opening performance “Pirates” was inventive and energetic, with an experienced team well-drilled in their craft keeping their ship afloat through consistently engaging sketches.
The show was coupled with by Ben Crowley’s one-man-show “Much Ado About Ben”. This piece was framed as a series of stories about Crowley’s life, but was also a vehicle for impro-developed duologues, usually with Ben literally hopping.
Many of the sketches were quite funny and Crowley is a charismatic entertainer, but this piece needed more focus from a ruthless external eye to excise the flab left over from its impro roots.