Arrgh. That’s pirate-speak for “wait, what?” Which is critic-speak for “I couldn’t follow the plot.”
But the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective show The Sea Voyage — a raunchy, lively, late-Jacobean comedy by Fletcher and Massinger — doesn’t much care if you keep up with every twist from storm to shipwreck to island.
Or maybe there are two islands. There is also a tribe of horny women warriors. There are, of course, pirates. There is a treasure chest (wait — are there three treasure chests?) and threatened cannibalism. There is romance. What more could you ask for?
Well, intelligibility wouldn’t go amiss. Why would you cast an actor who speaks with a strong Spanish accent to give all the pivotal explanatory speeches, written in Renaissance English? Especially in a venue that has many charms but good acoustics not among them? That laudable international casting decision unfortunately encumbers Venezuelan actress Yajaira Paredes under these particular circumstances.
Directed by Dan Hodge, the cast is game: Especially good are the dashing pirate captain, Albert (Cameron DelGrosso, channeling Johnny Depp) and his lovely love-interest Aminta (Stephanie Hodge); especially muscular is Andre Criss; especially ironic of tone is Eli Lynn, who doesn’t appear until Act Two.
I haven’t read this play, but I imagine the most frequent stage direction is: “Mayhem ensues.” And it does, especially when Lynn’s fight choreography takes over the second act for a spectacular and hilarious battle.
Much of the show’s humor comes from the reversal of traditional gender jokes about sexual appetite: The group of young women who have been stranded on the island are desperate for men, while this crew of guys turns out to be much less interested in sex than they are in food and wine.
The program notes offer basic info about the two little-known 17th century playwrights, famous in their day for following in Shakespeare’s footsteps as chief writers for the King’s Men acting company. It is often noted that The Sea Voyage may be their version of The Tempest.
Best bit, though, is this line: “Many of Massinger’s solo plays are still regularly performed, but unfortunately, many of his plays were lost, including eight accidentally destroyed by a cook.”
The Sea Voyage
Performed through Sept. 20 by the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective at Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. as part of the Fringe Festival.