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February 5, 2010 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Pirates vs. Ninjas


The Fringe is almost upon us. What a wonderful thought. Especially if you take the early opening Pirates vs. Ninjas as a measure for the monsoon of theatre to come in the next few weeks.

An emergency meeting of the Clans of Freedom has been called. Everyone is there. Esmerelda, played on the night I saw it by Anya Tate-Manning, also the writer/director (but credited to Sophie Roberts, so one might assume that Roberts will be taking over the roll when Vernon God Little, which she is co-directing is up and running), the feisty queen of the Gypsies. Trevor the Bastard (Sam Bunknall), a Scottish lothario. Captain Pain (Hadleigh Walker), the dashing if conflicted king of the Pirates. Seared Lily (Sarita So), a pregnant ninja. Olaf the Viking (Natano Keni), who appears to be more alcohol than human. Vittoria the Maori (Maria Rose MacDonald), who is… a Maori. Cliff the Cowboy (Thomas La Hood) makes an appearance too. As does Sasquatch (La Hood again). Don Pedro (La Hood a third time) can’t make it. Because he’s dead. Tempers will rage. Weddings will be arranged. And, most importantly, a lot of people will die.

Sarita So is a Ninja

Sarita So is a Ninja

Now, before I get to all the good stuff about Pirates vs. Ninjas—and there is a lot of it—I need to explain why the above plot summery contains so little plot. It’s not because there isn’t one. Quite the opposite. Pirates vs. Ninjas is thick with plot, sub-plot, sub-text and back-story. So much so that it becomes really rather hard to follow exactly what is going on. The story is spun so swiftly that its particulars sailed right by both me and the person who came with me. I kept wishing for one character to just sit down and tell another just what was going on. But it speaks incredibly highly of the success of the rest of the production that not really knowing what was going on did not detract from our enjoyment one iota.

Pirates vs Ninjas is a blast. A complete and total blast. The jokes are pitched wonderfully dark. The design is astounding for a Fringe show. Every single one of the performances could be plucked out of this and planted in almost any other show and they would steal that show out from under it. Here they simply merge into one of the best ensembles in recent memory.

Pirates vs. Ninjas is not simply happy with being a piece of fluff. It has some real moments of satirical bite. It is a dumb show for smart people or a smart show for dumb people. Or maybe it’s just a show for everyone.

The night I saw Pirates vs. Ninjas the audience was dismally and unwarrantedly small. Pirates vs. Ninjas seems to be running the risk of being that cool show in the fringe everyone heard about but no one saw. You know how you can change that? By going to it. You’ll have a great time. I promise.

Pirates vs. Ninjas
Written and directed by Anya Tate-Manning
With Sophie Roberts, Anya Tate-Manning, Sam Bunkall, Hadleigh Walker, Sarita So, Natano Keni, Maria Rose McDonald and Thomas La Hood

55 minutes.

At BATS theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
9.30pm, 2 – 15 Feb 2010
Book at or (04) 802 4175

Part of the 2010 Fringe Festival.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

Comments (1)

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  1. Nathan says:

    I would REALLY like to see this – mainly because Sophie Roberts is in it and I have yet to see her act. But, since she’s broken her toe, I doubt she will be.

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