Wrecked is a political comedy from The Nottingham New Theatre, based on The Tempest. A storm rages over a tropical island where the sole survivor of a shipwreck is discovered by five marooned pirates.
The pirates are living in a theocracy where Polly, a stuffed parrot, is the all-powerful God. Alliances are then made and broken as the pirates vie for control over the island, and a short-lived monarchy and an equally short-lived republic are formed. These power struggles are represented with two hats (the captain’s and the first mate’s) that are amusingly swapped amongst the cast depending on who is in control at any one time.
The six actors all create distinctive characters: Maggie is very serious, Billy is earnest, and Francois is Machiavellian. These different approaches could have been jarring, but instead they highlight the qualities of their characters and it meshes together nicely. However, one thing that all of them have in common is that they are all caricatures of swashbuckling pirates, and are all hopelessly incompetent at leading.
The play is extremely busy, with all of the machinations taking place over a two-day period. It all feels a little rushed. It seems incredible that relationships would have developed in such a short period of time, and for enough oppression to have been felt that it would lead to so many mutinies.
Gender is also an issue that is tackled, albeit not thoroughly. Ann, for instance, wears a false beard, and amusingly denigrates another female character despite the flimsiness of her disguise. When it is pointed out that everyone already knows she is a woman (she is called Ann after all), she replies that she is attempting to close the gender pay gap. But this big theme isn’t tackled to any great extent – and with so much else going on, it may have been advisable to drop this plot thread entirely.
Wrecked is an entertaining, chaotic piece that ultimately tries to cram too many themes and issues into a short running time. However, the cast are great, and are clearly enjoying themselves and their time at the Fringe.