St Mary Overie Dock, London
Untrustworthy sailors, stolen treasure, plentiful rum and boat with a captain named Jack – find these and you will be at the ‘x’ that marks the spot for your standard pirate tale. Inventive Productions’ latest venture, Pirates of the Hidden Spirit, has them all but brings them together in a way that discovers new shores for the immersive theatre format.
A replica of the Golden Hind (a late 16th-century galleon captained by Sir Francis Drake) at St Mary Overie Dock in Bankside is where the adventure takes place. Traversing the faithfully recreated interiors of the vessel will give you your sea legs in no time. Mind your head though or you might also be struck by the fact that the average height of an Englishman 400 years ago was half a foot less.
The actors treading these particular boards will welcome you with a warning not to get on the wrong side of the ship’s stern governor. Working for the inaugural United States government, the governor has just successfully recovered an immense treasure. Unfortunately, his American sailors have all fallen mysteriously ill so a recruitment drive of London’s pirates has begun.
Attendees play the parts of the local riff-raff. To show that you have the right credentials, you will be given a tricorn hat and a frock coat. Once suitably attired for the occasion you will have a brisk chat with your intimidating new boss, the governor.
Afterwards, you will descend into the bowels of the ship to a place where everyone knows your (pirate) name, the bar. Here you will have your choice of cocktails. All drinks are thoughtfully presented and are varied enough to ensure every pirate taste should be catered for. While at the bar, you will get to know Elsa, the ship’s first mate, and her sidekick, Twitchy.
Whether they are misreading (hopefully) your future or swindling you at a game of dice, it is difficult not to grow fond of these two mischievous and engaging characters. At some point, the governor, who is concerned to prevent the embezzlement of any of the treasure, will disrupt proceedings with offers of carrots and sticks to the crew to ensure the safe passage of the treasure. There is a storm brewing though, as the ship’s captain, Jack Cassidy, is not placated by the governor and harbors pirate schemes he intends to implement. All hands aboard might feel confident that they can predict the ending. The conclusion though comes as a surprise and produces a sense of pathos that eludes most immersive experiences. No shipwreck here – if you are interested in setting sail for an adventure that you won’t find on most maps, enlist with the Pirates of the Hidden Spirit.
The production is open Thursdays -Saturdays. Tickets, including 3 cocktails are £34.99 https://www.thehiddenspirit.co.uk/