Bridewell Theatre, London
Recently founded theatre company Temporarily Misplaced Productions is taking the company’s new show Care Not, Fear Naught (written and directed by co-founder Emily Hutt) to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it will have a two-week stint. In preparation for this, the play was performed at London’s Bridewell Theatre as part of their ‘Lunchbox Theatre’ schedule.
The play tells the story of 18th-century Irish pirate Anne Bonny. Anne meets and falls for merchant sailor James Bonny; her father sees it as an undesirable match and threatens to cut her off if she goes against his wishes and marries him – Anne, being the independent spirit she is, goes and does exactly that.
As her new husband was actually most interested in the wealth she would have inherited, it is not the happiest of relationships. He sends her to a brothel to make her own money while he goes off on a voyage, though she harbours desires to go on a voyage of her own – and sets her sights on Calico Jack’s ship The Revenge. She gets his attention by committing an unnecessarily aggressive act, and he reluctantly agrees to let her join the crew in disguise. Will she be accepted in this new life?
This is definitely an important story to be telling, particularly now. The lengths Anne Bonny went to in order to live the life she wanted, and to be accepted in a ‘man’s world’ were incredible – and put to shame people who take women’s relative freedom for granted, such as those who say they are feminists and want to empower women but aren’t even on the electoral register. Hopefully hearing Anne’s remarkable story will serve as a reminder of how hard people have fought for this cause.
The play itself is slightly unbalanced, not quite knowing if it wants to be modern or just appeal to modern sensibilities – as such, the script does sound quite anachronistic at times, and it is quite jarring. I’m also not sure the years (and Anne’s ages) have been thought through, though they could just have been misspoken. Anne is described as a “devil child”, so presumably that’s what prompted her to be given two ‘demons’ who shadow her a lot of the time, but I’m not convinced of the need for them at all – Anne is perfectly capable of telling her own story and proving just how subversive she can be.
While I appreciate the use of sound effects to help set the scene of a storm at sea, etc. the volume needs to come right down when the actors start speaking. Not a single word can be heard when any sound effects are playing, which is far from helpful. Perhaps a bit more thought needs to go into any action that places the actors on the floor, as it is only visible to the front row and therefore cuts the rest of the audience out of some sections. The movement direction during the storms is fantastic, however, and really makes you feel like they’re on a ship that’s on the verge of sinking.
The central character of Anne Bonny is in strong hands with Anna Herzog in the role. She is completely committed to the woman she’s portraying, even at her most psychotic (“They’d learn respect if you allowed me to kill one of them!”), and is an engaging presence throughout the 60-minute piece. There’s just one thing though – can she be given a hair tie, bandana or hat for when Anne first joins Calico Jack’s crew? He says that she’d better have a good disguise, and then appears unchanged! You can’t really brazen that one out, and it is helpful for an audience if appearances do change on occasion.
My verdict? An interesting story and a play with great potential, with a few tweaks it could become a powerful production – Anna Herzog is magnetic as the bloodthirsty Anne Bonny.
Care Not, Fear Naught ran at the Bridewell Theatre until 22 June 2018. It will run at Lime Studio (Greenside @ Nicolson Square) from 6-11 August and 13-18 August as part of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Tags: Anna Herzog, Anne Bonny, Bridewell Theatre, Care Not Fear Naught, Emily Hutt, London, Lunchbox Theatre, Off West End, review, Temporarily Misplaced Productions, theatreCategories: all posts, theatre, review
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