Robinson Crusoe and the Caribean Pirates ***

Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates.  I just want you to look at that title and think for a moment.  Now, does it entice you, or does it make you shudder?  Odds are highly likely that your reaction to this production will be very similar to your original thoughts to its title.

If I were to give a fair description of what I saw, I’d have to say that I witnessed a well-oiled machine at work.  Is there a plot?  Yes, in the thinnest of senses.  Are there interesting characters?  Kind of, though most of them are at least entertaining.  Did I care about what was happening onstage?  Not really.

But the big question for such a production is thus: did I have fun?  To this, I have to give a weak affirmative.

It’s not that I disliked what I saw.  There were many humorous moments, some of them even laugh-out-loud, and there were some genuinely good comedic shenanigans.  I enjoyed many of the song-and-dance numbers and was particularly impressed with the underwater scene (a very clever use of black light effects, puppetry and choreography) and really laughed hard at the encore.

And there is no denying the fact that the cast, particularly the principals, are having a great time.  In fact, if anything, this production’s greatest asset is the company’s enthusiasm.  It’s hard not to enjoy what’s happening when the company are having such a ball.  Allan Stewart, Grant Stott, Charlie Cairoli and Quintin Young are all polished pros at this, and they certainly know how to work a crowd.

But with all of this, I still wasn’t completely charmed.  You know you’re in trouble when the biggest laugh that I heard didn’t come from anything onstage but from the surrounding audience when a child loudly passed gas, only to proudly proclaim to all that “I just pumped!”

There is nothing wrong with it, there is nothing overtly right with it, and there is certainly nothing very special about it.  Robinson Crusoe does exactly what it sets out to do, nothing more or less.  Many make a tradition of going to the Kings for their yearly excursion to Pantoland, and for them they will probably be happy.  Those looking for a creative spark of inspiration, however, will probably be only slightly amused.  In short, to use a very popular phrase: it is what it is.

At the Kings Theatre Edinburgh until January 17, 2010.  Check for times as they vary.

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