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Written By:

Anne Fortune

by Anne-Louise Fortune

The Tragedy that Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo is one of the more unusual show titles at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performed by emerging Edinburgh-based group The Dead Parrot Collective, this is a joyful romp through every fictional pirate trope you’ve ever encountered. The small group of four performers uses songs as well as deliberate over-acting to craft the tale of a ragbag crew of the titular ship. 

To attempt to sum up the plot is a challenge – there is just so much going on. Captain Valentine has mutinied against his previous boss, who turns out to be his uncle, stealing a gold chest on the way off his relative’s ship. Having shaken off the uncle by hiding in a ferocious storm, the crew then rescue a woman, who turns out to be a famous London thief. Silliness, an impenetrable card game, and much rum follow. As does inferred cannibalism, a wild goose chase around the Caribbean Seas, the theft of a treasure map where an un-named islet marks the spot, and a fever-dream sequence which contains a bizarrely moving moment. 

Made on a budget of approximately £58.92, the cast wring the fullest benefit possible out of every opportunity for a joke. Captain Swan’s ship is represented by a swan-shaped pool floatie, Jolly the Chef’s Parrot – Roger – is a cuddly toy. The boat’s hull is a number of pieces of rope. It’s all incredibly endearing. 

There’s a small number of songs, well performed, which serve to move the story along whilst providing energy and invigoration to the overall pacing. Most pleasing of all, the plot actually makes sense and has an immensely satisfying, if groan-worthy, ending. 

The performances are a joy, with the actors finding light and shade in the script whilst they also chew the scenery. The pace is frantic, sometimes almost frenetic, as scenes come and go and the ragtag crew’s quest draws to its conclusion. The performers seem to have endless energy, especially during a very demanding fight sequence. 

Kakapo can be summarised as Our Flag Means Death meets Muppet Treasure Island, in an epic story of immense silliness. Highly recommended for when you want to be thoroughly entertained. 

The Tragedy that Befalls the Dastardly Crew of the Kakapo continues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until August 12th.


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