Silent Canonfire

12 February 2010

Oliver O’Shea discovers swash-buckling silence is not golden

ADC Larkum Studio – 8.00pm Tues 9th-Sat 13th February 2010


It is ironic that Will Seawood’s company, Of Vast Bigness, presents his silent pirate epic in the tiny Larkum Studio in the ADC. Both audience and actors are crammed into this dinghy of a venue. If hyperbolic gesticulation and mouthing of dialogue are your thing, then ensure that you get to this performance early enough to guarantee a seat near the front, otherwise you will have a restricted view of the action and will spend much of the performance craning your neck.

Everyone is able to see the nautical paraphernalia that frames the stage, indicating to the audience that is a typical piratical adventure, which we are informed by a paper placard, is specifically set in 1677. Signs such as this assist in guiding us through the Bermudian narrative and add humour to this overall hit-and-miss revue. Following the plot is tricky, and is subordinate to the sight gags and deliberate over-acting. The production delivers the speechlessness promised, but there is rarely silence due to the brilliant music that underscores the frenetic miming.

Evidently, the production is light-hearted fun. There are a handful of very funny moments in the hour-long production, with highlights being the pirate who finds gold treasure coins an aphrodisiac, and the printed dialogue on the undergarments of the two lovers. Despite moments like these, the play isn’t consistently funny or varied enough to sustain the engagement of the audience. Sharper and more defined choreography would have made the movement sequences funnier, and although some of the humour comes from the intentionally rough-and-ready tone of the piece, at times it feels under-rehearsed. Silent Canonfire’s unashamed unpretentiousness is welcome, but its triteness is not.