Death Ship 666 is Airplane meets Titanic; an exuberant rollercoaster ride of humorous grotesques, which revels in its own clichés and absurdities. It's also a delightful (some would say long overdue) deconstruction of one of the most successful films of all time – and, crucially, a show that ensures you'll never be able to take the original quite so seriously again.
The titular Death Ship 666 is a new luxury liner that's still only half-built when it leaves port on its maiden voyage to the Bermuda Triangle. Among the passengers is our narrator, Grandma, still in her 20s and desperate to have a child (so that they in turn can have a child and so ensure she can live up to her name). Unfortunately, her villainous husband John has no thoughts for her, concentrating instead on the faulty wiring that will destroy the ship as part of his master plan to ruin the upper classes. He's unaware, however, that a couple of the ship's super-rich investors have also determined the vessel will never reach its destination, as long as they can avoid the unwanted attentions of a 10 year old wannabe detective who's on their tail. Of course, as the ship heads towards disaster, Grandma unexpectedly finds true love with the ship's dashing young Architect, but his own past is catching up and the bears (yes, bears) are out for revenge.
Harrie Hayes as 'innocent' Grandma and Mattias Penman as the dashing Architect are, for the most part, the calm centre around which the rest of the cast–Andrew Utley, Carrie Marx, Lydia Hourihan and co-director Michael Patrick Clarkson–flit successfully between several roles apiece, never confusing the audience in the process. Written by Michael Clarkson, Paul Clarkson and Gemma Hurley, Death Ship 666 is patently absurd, but it's performed with absolute commitment, clarity and gusto; a whirlwind of comings and goings which never confuses or distracts. Admittedly, while the script does include some memorable one-liners ('I want you to draw me like one of your French buildings,' comes to mind), it's fair to say that the characters and situations are necessarily created with the broadest of strokes. Yet this hardly seems to matter; from start to finish, this show is pitched perfectly to entertain an audience which even gets to feel involved, albeit only as 'steerage'.