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  • Henry Longstaff

Breast-Baring - Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Inspired by pirates

Breast-Bearing. Two women sit on a table looking into each other's eyes


Marking their company’s debut outing, Dawn Train Theatre have dived into the world of 18th-century piracy, uncovering feminist icons to inspire 21st-century women - move over Barbie. Though boasting an intriguing concept and promising potential the piece maintains the air of a work in progress production.

Set in a high street cafe, Annabel wants to be seen, to make herself heard in a world made for men. She nervously flirts with her work crush Mary, cautious of saying or doing the wrong thing, desperate for the confidence to be herself. When Mary introduces her to the book she is authoring on remarkable women from history, Annabel becomes fascinated by Anne Bonny, a pirate rebel who lived a life of freedom and promiscuity whilst sailing the seven seas. Annabel’s fascination evolves into an unhealthy obsession triggering a self-destructive streak that risks all that she has worked for.

This production is neatly underscored by an on-stage band comprised of Loris Scarpa and Sam Lightfoot-Loftus who also portray the impatient customers mumbling away incessantly - Sarcpa impatiently tapping away and Lightfoot-Loftus armed with a relentless rhythm guitar. I see what the direction was trying to achieve in this production but, like the majority of this production, the visions, though well-intentioned, felt underdeveloped. The playfulness of the band was a delight and I wanted to see more. The late and brief addition of Susannah Cann as the Anne Bonny and singer for the band was a little jarring, her cameo appearance almost entirely ignored by the script - very strange.

Leading the production, Anna Francis embodies Annabel’s anxious persona well, her outwardly fearful nature both endearing and amusing. Francis and Alice Wolff-Whitehouse (Mary) have a neat playful dynamic, their flirtatious banter engaging and likeable, but both require more from the script to delve deeper into their characters and give more complete performances. The script, particularly in the second half of the play, begins to lurch in directions without undertaking the essential groundwork for the beats to pay off. The ending is abrupt and unfulfilling, the play’s original intentions caught up in the desire to find any sort of conclusion.

This all being said there is clear and obvious potential in this play. Sparks of creative ingenuity and talent glimmer from each aspect, but more work is required to bring them together. A strong debut from a company with big ambitions.

Running until 30th September - Tickets

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