Pleasance Courtyard – the Green
Ahoy me hearties! Captain Zak, the Space Pirate, is waiting for his new recruits down at the Pleasance KidZone, and if you are under 7 or boarding the spaceship with someone of that age, you can expect a fun filled voyage of interplanetary entertainment for the whole family. There is loads of stuff tailored to families at the venue, making it easy to grab something to eat, or perhaps do some craft activities after the show, so it’s a great way to spend a morning.
Our captain, played by the fabulous Eden Ballantyne, is totally delightful and welcoming from the off, stopping to greet his shipmates as they cross the gangplank into his world of imagination and collaboration. He explains that he used to work for the Amazin Corporation, but stole their delivery ship and turned pirate. Unfortunately it has broken down and he needs some help to fix it. The audience are put at their ease within seconds and enthusiastically invited to be a part of the show.
This has to be one of the most genuinely relaxed performances I have seen in ages, with all of the children – even those a bit hesitant at first – at some point jumping up to get involved. At one point there were nine participants on stage! Ballantyne certainly has a gift for putting people at their ease in a non-patronising and endearing way. His delivery is perfectly paced, with not a moment wasted, as we’re effortlessly led from one adventure to the next, hilariously helped and hindered by a snarky computer.
There’s a pretty simple set representing the ship in this small box theatre, but it hides lots of different activities that become clear as the performance progresses. In fact, simplicity is one of the key selling points of this show, and what makes it so successful and accessible to everyday families. You can have all your close up live feed projections, your giant puppets, your binaural sound, but you can’t really beat a good treasure hunt, some shout-outs and a singalong, can you? It’s gently educational, containing a bit of simple maths and physics, colour mixing, shape sorting and some conversation about recycling. The mix of activities means it appeals to a wide range of ages, from the little kids to the older ones – even the grown-ups are welcomed to join in too, so it’s perfect for a family group.
And it’s all surprisingly considered. I was particularly struck by one line where Captain Zak talked about a participant perhaps losing a limb in a transporter incident, or some such, and he bothered to say that it’s OK to not have all your arms and legs; just make sure you have the same number going in as going out. This is tiny, tiny detail, but importantly non-ableist and could make the world of difference to some kid in the audience. Additionally, safety consideration is built discreetly into the script so you hardly know it’s there, but it’s present – and important to deter children who might go home and attempt to dismantle the fridge pretending it’s a spaceship.
The show is just full of action, lively, upbeat, energetic, dynamic, colourful and great fun. It’s brilliant for kids who don’t want to sit still, but still entertaining for those who do, and either choice is fine. Captain Zak is a warm, welcoming personality you will be delighted to meet, and you will have an absolutely wonderful time as part of his crew.
Written by: Eden Ballantyne
Produced by: Stories Alive
Captain Zak and the Space Pirates plays at EdFringe 2022 until 21 August. Further information and bookings here.