REVIEW: WOMAN! PILOT! PIRATE? (Vaults Festival) ★★★

Starting its short run this week, Woman! Pilot! Pirate? is a quaint look at Emmy (Grace Lyons Hudson), a dreamer, who finds out that her hero, pilot Amelia Earhart, has been missing for 81 years following a plane crash. Although her life puts some obstacles in the way, Emmy looks for ways to rescue her idol, be it by building, sailing, or fighting.

Emmy’s inspired to find the crash site, and in turn find the plane. Within the plane the black box will tell her ‘what the bloody hell happened’ to Earhart. Throughout the production, various leading words and ideas flash up throughout the set – ‘find the pirate ship’, ‘take the liquid’ and meet the pirates, find the way’. What exactly they had to do with finding Amelia Earhart is anyone’s guess.

With Emmy not saying a word until near the end of the production, it was down to the facial expressions of Lyons Hudson, and the vocal input from musical Sam Kemp, to explain the story.

With a new world unravelling before her very eyes, Emmy gets caught up in her fantasies, and becomes embroiled in altercations with pirates, monsters and even hallucinations, caused by a seemingly Alice in Wonderland-inspired ‘drink me’ potion.

The two-person production, by Pareidolia – a theatre company that empowers disabled and non-disabled actors – offered live music performed by Kemp. The musician, who recently graduated from Goldsmiths, controlled the musical aspects of the show from a sound booth on stage, alongside numerous instruments, including keyboard and various guitars.

The range of voices and parts portrayed by Kemp was entertaining – his vocal spectrum was very entertaining, and pretty impressive! Kemp also lent his voice to an acoustic performance with Lyons Hudson towards the end of the show, with the latter also playing guitar. It was the first time we really heard Grace’s voice throughout the entire show.

Was this performance slick? No. But did they want it to be? I don’t think so. Part of the allure of the performance was the stop-start nature of the music, and the randomness of the entire piece.

Did I know what was going on for the 50 minute production? Not really… but the two performers still managed to keep the show moving with great comic timing.

Reviewed by Luisa Gottardo


Buy tickets to West End theatre shows (some great discounted offers)
Subscribe to my mailing list for all the latest theatre news, special offers and competitions