Review: Pitcairn at Chichester Festival Theatre

Heaven on Earth writer Sara Jeffs with Russell Watson

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The greatest story ever told

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The story of the Mutiny on The Bounty is one that has long fascinated people, with two very successful film adaptations and numerous books readily available on the subject.

Few think to ask what happened next though. Richard Bean’s Pitcairn does just that, showing us Fletcher Christian’s brave new world and watching it unravel as English sailors and Tahitian natives struggle to form a new community.

Sadly Bean’s play is somewhat of a mish-mash. The muddled tone and the broad, almost stereotypical, approach to some characters create an odd atmosphere. Numerous clunky and largely unsuccessful attempts at audience participation don’t help and it ends up being somewhat uncomfortable.

For all that though, there are some excellent performances here. Tom Morley’s Fletcher Christian is an idealist beaten down by the civilisation he toils to create. Samuel Edward-Cook’s Quintal is a brutal mad-dog who threatens the English and rapes the Tahitian women, a fearsome performance, at odds with anything else on the stage. Eben Figueiredo’s Tahitian boy serves as both narrator and as the heart of the play.

Bean is an accomplished playwright, this is one of three new pieces he will debut in 2014, but this feels strangely incomplete.

Until September 20.

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