Woman! Pilot! Pirate?

A charming mixture of mime and music, Woman! Pilot! Pirate? is the endearing tale of Emmy, who believes that Amelia Earhart’s disappearance is nothing more than a conspiracy and therefore decides to track her down by following in her footsteps. An unfortunate incident leaves her stuck on an island, trying to survive.

A charming mixture of mime and music

Grace Lyons Hudson plays protagonist Emmy with skilled physicality. In any moment her face can be beaming with joy, or sunken with despair, seemingly changing shape before our eyes with emotion. In a mainly non-verbal role, relying heavily on mime and clowning style movements, Hudson excels.

The accompanying music is constructed in front of us using a live loop pedal, allowing fellow performer Sam Kemp to create an incredible a cappella soundscape, sometimes reminiscent of the ocean, at other times like radio static. These contemporary folk-style tunes bring warmth and humanity to the performance, which can otherwise occasionally feel detached by its strangeness.

Mostly, watching Woman! Pilot! Pirate? is a cosy experience, like a warm cup of a tea indoors on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The music and the movements work together to lull you to a peaceful place. But there’s a sharp edge hidden there too. Emmy’s descent into madness brings laughter, such as when she shoves her mouth full with pieces of dried coconut, but also poignancy, as her relationship with the voice through the radio (again played by Sam Kemp) progresses.

The direction, combined with the lighting design by Heidi Aurora, is beautiful. Pick a moment, any moment, to photograph and you’ll have gained a work of art. From swathes of red light generating the heat of the desert island to spotlights that dip in to enhance your sense of wonder, this is a very good looking show. The set is appropriately and pleasingly ramshackle and handcrafted, like a child’s homemade den.

Despite the show’s beauty, and obvious sense of heart, the story itself is very light. It might not be their intention to be plot driven, but as a whole it struggles to become more than a simple collection of moments. Whimsical, scenic moments, yes, but this playful collage is not quite enough to maintain a full hour’s interest.

Reviews by Elanor Parker

Caravanserai Brighton: Junk Poets


Laughing Horse @ The Walrus


The Rotunda Theatre: Squeak


The Actors - Theatre

Homophobia on the Orient Express

Pleasance Courtyard


Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Joseph Parsons: Equaliser


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Amelia Earhart has been missing for 82 years. Emmy thinks this is a cover-up. Emmy wants the truth. Caught between her humdrum life and her need for adventure, she intends to build, sail and fight her way to her hero. As a new world of pirate ships, uncharted islands and haunting music unfolds around her, Emmy's fantasies start to become real. Will her adventure take her to her long-lost hero, or to somewhere else entirely?

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £54.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets