Captain of the Lost Waves: Unsolved Mysteries

One of the songs included in Captain of the Lost Waves: Unsolved Mysteries is titled A Song No One Wants to Hear. Despite what it may seem from this, the Captain is apparently unaware that this is the show that no one wants to see. Included on the back of their flyers is a quote claiming that the show is hypnotising. Indeed, I tried to hypnotise myself so that I would not have to suffer through the entire performance, but was as unsuccessful in this attempt as they were at putting on a bearable show.

The best part of the show was when the Captain got distracted and broke character to give a rant on the increasingly corporate nature of the Fringe.

If you read the description of it, which is the only way to even somewhat determine what it is meant to be about, you will learn that this is the tales and songs of an intergalactic time detective. In theory, this sounds slightly bizarre but also potentially fun and fascinating. Without the help of a flyer or the fringe website, this show is a very different situation. The Captain is a man dressed in anachronistic, vaguely piratey clothes, who prances and trips (literally trips; I am concerned about the health and safety policy in the venue) around the stage singing.

This description still could be fun, in theory. But it's not. It's painful to watch, and I'm not just talking about the multiple times the performer snags his feet on his mic cords. In terms of acting, the persona of the Captain is one of utter overblown and patronising cheesiness, like Willy Wonka combined with the pediatrician you were scared of as a child. With either his guitar or ukulele, whichever is relevant for the song at hand, he sidles up to the audience, staring them down with an attempt at a knowing smile. Perhaps this show is billed as a 'feel-good' performance because he has misread the indulgent smiles people force upon their faces in an effort to get him to leave them alone. There is absolutely a role in theatre to make your audience uncomfortable, but generally this should be something done on purpose, for a purpose, not just because of a badly acted persona. Added to this bewildering cocktail is a strange little child dressed up like a clown crawling around and through chairs, accomplishing more of the same discomfort.

Technically, the Captain's voice itself is not awful, and the music is too simplistic to truly be offensive. But the songs are filled with awkward pauses, like an aspiring poet trying to be deep, and he affects a disconcerting warble to his voice every few lines. Lyrically, the songs make no sense. One could argue that they are not meant to make sense, but instead of coming across as charmingly eccentric, they instead become disconcerting and tedious. I am under the impression that moments of the show were meant to be funny, but Fringe performers should note that having the people on your production team, who are wearing t-shirts for your show and ripped the tickets for it, laugh does not mean that everyone else will be fooled into believing that you've done something amusing.

The best part of the show was when the Captain got distracted and broke character to give a rant on the increasingly corporate nature of the Fringe. However, as this was not a Free Fringe show, this did not ring particularly poignant, but at least it was nice to hear a genuine emotional expression after 40 minutes of labored overacting. But those few moments of relief are not worth seeing the rest of the show.

Reviews by Ali Schultz

Pleasance Courtyard

The Burning

★★★★★
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★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

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★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Dracula

★★★
St Andrews Town Hall

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★★★★★

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The Blurb

First mates and mutineers, come aboard and sail with the Captain as he opens up a music box of tales, mysteries and hidden gems. Where theatre, drama and intrigue collide. Fantasy, humour and feel-good moments abound via this aptly dressed intergalactic time detective. All that's missing is you!

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