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Pirates in Corsets, or PMS Pinafore – Review by Kelly Luck

In the interest of clarity, it should be stated at the beginning that this is not exactly the performance advertised. Ms Grasberg has indeed created a two-act full-cast musical in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan about an all-female pirate crew and their escapades on the high seas. However, that is not what is being presented here. Instead, it is simply Ms Grasberg herself basically giving a one-hour summary of the play, theoretically with musical accompaniment (albeit the music wasn’t working in the performance we saw) and singing excerpts from the various songs.

The fact is, it is hard to determine the merits of the full production in these circumstances. We understand that Ms Grasberg was “thrown for a loop” by the technical frustrations, but nevertheless that didn’t change the nature of the show. The story seems to be told piecemeal, in no particular order, to the point that it becomes difficult to be certain just where in the narrative the current plot point could have taken place. Songs are done very sparingly, generally a couple of rounds of chorus and maybe a verse. Such lyrics as we did hear were adequate, if not really William S. Gilbert material.

As this is not so much a show as a presentation about a show, it would perhaps behoove Ms Grasberg to formally structure it as such, bring to this production the same disciplines of pacing and narrative that go into the show itself. Alternatively, approach the material in a way that is more single-performer friendly. Fringe is full of highly successful one-person autobiographical shows which demonstrate how adeptly this may be done, and we feel Ms Grasberg may do well to learn from their example.

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