When it’s dark, there are scary sounds all around you and there’s no moon to show you the way, your imagination can play some pretty creepy tricks on you. Then again, so can big brothers.
In the Unicorn Theatre’s The Legend Of Captain Crow’s Teeth, director Matthew Lenton’s tricks are the most impressive on show though. Set during a summer holiday where adventures become more ghostly and dangerous than nine-year-old Will would like, Lenton’s production sees a picnic bench become a cramped caravan bedroom, a cool box the home to the most sugary of treasures and a ghost pirate rather more feathery than one would imagine.
Will and his mischievous brothers have come to a seaside caravan park for their annual holiday and at the grand old age of nine, Will gets to go to the big kid’s disco for the first time ever. But when big brother Marty tells him the story of Captain Crow and the pirate’s 200 year quest for his nine-year-old nemesis the cabin boy, life suddenly doesn’t seem so rosy and Will must prove his innocence in time to get home from the dance for bedtime.
With audience participation, silly dances and even sillier jokes, Eoin Colfer’s play is suitable for children aged seven and older, but that’s not to say it isn’t scary enough to make even the most grown-up grown up jump. The feathery-faced Captain Crow is a menacing half man, half bird who stands seemingly seven foot tall in his ghostly pirate get-up. But with a decidedly Mighty Boosh surrealist twist, he is a cockney geezer with a motley crew of pirates who secretly prefer ballads to sea shanties.
Alastair Hankinson is utterly worth rooting for as the angst ridden Will, whose two younger brothers – who are more like hyperactive criminal masterminds than most eight-year-olds you’d care to meet – gang up on him to stop themselves falling victim to Marty’s big brother tricks. But it is Garance Marneur’s atmospheric designs that steal the show; twinkling lights and miniature pirate ships have never looked so exciting.
While it may be full of gory tales and spooky pirates, The Legend Of Captain Crow’s Teeth is really a family adventure at heart. Brothers may sometimes find each other annoying, but when it comes to fighting pirates, they make an unbeatable team.