THEATRE REVIEW: Sex and violence in the South Sea.

Sex and violence on the high seas

Sex and violence on the high seas

First published in Entertainments
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Editor-in-chief

Is paradise always an illusion? Can mankind ever escape from traditions of hierarchy, race and religion to found a society based on absolute equality? Not even when cut off from the world in an apparent Eden of plenty?

Those are the questions at the heart of this marvellous new play from Richard Bean that explores the what-ifs behind the ’lost’ twenty years on Pitcairn, the tiny rocky outcrop in the South Pacific, fled to by Fletcher Christian and his mutineers from The Bounty.

After landing on the volcanic spec, misplaced on navigational charts by 200-miles, the group burnt the Bounty, cutting off any escape for the British sailors and the group of Tahitian men and women who had accompanied them.

When the island was ‘found’ 20-years later, only one of the men was alive, living with nine women and 23 children. What had happened? Certainly not the official report that disease had killed the missing mutineers and others, according to Richard Bean’s version. Despite an attempt to throw off the ills of old-world societies – both in Europe and Tahiti – death comes through a measure of those most ancient of human challenges: lust, greed, envy and revenge.

This is a challenging work. The use of language is ripe from the outset, Tahitian society just as adept at Anglo-Saxon language as, well, the Anglo-Saxons it seems. Descriptions of the sexual act are graphic, both in the telling and the acting as both societies show themselves capable of extreme violence.

Yet through the work there is humour, especially with the interaction between the audience and  play’s two marvellous narrators, Hiti, played by Eben Figueiredo, and the object of his youthful desire Mata,played by Cassie Layton.

Tom Morley plays Fletcher Christian whose act in giving up command to create a Utopian society sets in motion a trail of murder and calamity. Ash Hunter plays his scheming former second in command, Ned Young with his own rigid belief in Bible and breeding.

Among a strong cast, Samuel Edward-Cook stands out as the island’s rogue mad-dog, the buttock-tattooed sailor Quintal.

Pitcairn itself is a rocky outcrop surrounded by raging seas and designer Tom Shortfall creates a tempestuous set. The initial staging as waves roar across the stage floor towards huge rocks makes for an incredible opener to this well-directed work from Max Stafford-Clark.

Richard Bean’s final twist in his work of clashing cultures is a delight.

Pitcairn remains a mystery today. The island receives few visitors, the dwindling numbers of descendants of the mutineers still locked in their prison paradise. It is doubtful any of the remaining nine families will ever see this spectacular interpretation of their ancestors’ ‘lost’ decades.

Pitcairn runs until September 20.

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:43pm Mon 8 Sep 14

Danae says...

Where?
Where? Danae
  • Score: 0

8:48am Tue 9 Sep 14

sotongirl100 says...

It's at Chichester. I went to see it and did not enjoy it at all. Found it rather crude and vulgar. On a positive note the revamped theatre is excellent.
It's at Chichester. I went to see it and did not enjoy it at all. Found it rather crude and vulgar. On a positive note the revamped theatre is excellent. sotongirl100
  • Score: 1
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree