Review: Mutiny at the Arts Centre

Pitcairn. Picture by Robert Workman
Pitcairn. Picture by Robert Workman
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Pitcairn by Richard Bean, Warwick Arts Centre until October 24.

All Fletcher Christian wants for his new society in paradise is reason and

individualism.

A straightforward code to live by, perhaps, but simply shedding the officers’

uniforms that Christian and his sidekick wore while seizing the Bounty and

setting Captain Bligh adrift is not going to be enough. The mutineers and their

Tahitian followers must also shed the strait-jacket of class and sexual and

colonial exploitation.

This new play by the writer of One Man, Two Guvnors picks up the celebrated

story some months on, at a critical point in Christian’s social experiment, with

suspicion, greed and lust already beginning to assert themselves.

Its exploration of the weighty themes of society and human nature are framed

by a beautifully conjured South Sea Island setting, all rocks and tide, but

there’s a confusion at the heart of this play that can’t be hidden. The mix of

high drama and a skittish kind of knowing comedy is wrong somehow.

The ensemble cast work hard to maintain credibility as seadog humour

steadily gives way to horror, but struggle to convince. And using the audience

as a sounding board, in the nudge, nudge manner of a slightly dodgy

pantomime, does not work at all.

Rating: 6/10.

Peter Walters.