Review: Piramania! The Swashbuckling Pirate Musical

First performed in 2010, and revived for 2019, Piramania! is as light as the Jolly Roger fluttering in the breeze, and is all the better for it

musicals review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
32703 large
Published 10 Aug 2019

Yo ho, this is really stupid fun. To be clear, there's nothing learned over the course of this hour and a half; nothing gained; nothing fought over and won. Except, that is, the love of a presumed sister as part of a weird and pretty dated plot line about not-quite-incest. 

Basically, Piramania! is a daft old romp in which everything is played for laughs. From warnings about mermaids with herpes, to meta-takes on the silliness of miming climbing the rigging, to a throwaway line about the "Cake Arse Islands". Little is left to taste.

It's all framed by an Imperial lounge-lizard narrator, played beautifully, suitably hammily by Adam Elliot, whose drinks cabinet deserves special mention for its range and escalating oddness. Even more special mention, though, goes to MD Ben David Papworth, who keeps a surprisingly epic score together at the piano, and is clearly responsible for the high standard of live music and singing here. It's as tight as a mainsail in a 40-knot gale, and it's this technical proficiency that gives the silliness a firm foundation.

The cast do extremely well to fit a lot of business into a tight but economical set, making use of barrels and boxes without ever making the blocking feel contrived. Alex Howard has clearly directed with care, and there's some very painterly ensemble moments. Our jolly crew sing and play live with confidence, energy and skill and totally sell this treasure. It just feels a shame that this careful revival didn't rewrite the incest—oh, and sheep sex—sub-plots which could be thrown overboard.