Helen Thomson - Reviewer, The Age, June 20th, 2005


An Aye for an Aye is an engaging little romp with a very clever twist at its end, one that shouldn't be revealed in a review. This ending has the effect of mentally sending you back to the start and rearranging all the pieces into a new and ironic configuration.

The pirate pair, Paddy and Cap'n (Alicia Clark and Aurora Kurth) seem to be in desperate straits, marooned on board their ship without food or water for a start. Cap'n seems a trifle demented and Paddy lost in an Irish reverie that seems endless.

The pair clown and storytell in a manner that suspends us somewhere between reality and a dream. This impression is increased by the brief scenes that reveal a young woman in bed, trying in vain to get to sleep. What all the characters convey is an oddly unfocussed anxiety. This pirate story of swashbuckling adventure, told with great dramatic zest and lively physical re-enactment, also suggests that truth and fiction are being deliberately mixed. There are echoes of Ulysses' adventures in the Odyssey, for example, and more than a touch of Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.

We seem to be suspended in a dream of pirate adventure, made funny in the quixotic performances but also grim enough in its reminder of the bloodthirsty occupations of these professional killers and pillagers. Of course they are also only girls dressed up in pirate gear, another dislocating fact.

The two writer/performers are inventive and entertaining, establishing distinct and contrasting characters. Each tells us how they came to be pirates - they were both originally child runaways who ended up at sea.

When we learn how hopeless their imprisonment on the ship really is - more touching even than the predicament of the Ancient Mariner - we are relieved at what seems to be their release. Their rescuer is none other than the girl in the bed we had watched trying to sleep.

But there is yet another twist, and we are left ruefully laughing at the end, suddenly victims ourselves of the clever illusionist skills of performers who have packed a great deal into a thoroughly enjoyable 50 minutes of play-acting.

let’s dance. I wasn’t disappointed. Like many of their peers, Alicia Easteal and Aurora Kurth’s strengths would appear to be centred on their enviable talents in physical theatre, comedy and improvisation, all working together to deliver imaginative and slightly magical performances. The show begins slowly as we’re introduced to Paddy (Easteal) and the Cap’n (Kurth), buccaneers doomed to sail their lonely vessel across the oceans for a century. We meet them at the end of their journey, when they have fully succumbed to their maddening predicament, and the source of their cursed existence only slowly becomes apparent.

In the course of little under an hour, Paddy’s glazed-over stoicism and the mad, hyperactive rantings of the Cap’n reveal a tale of high adventure, wickedness and the cynical nature of revenge. After its gently paced opening, the show rushes along at a terrific clip and, most satisfyingly, finally leaves you with the sense of a very coherent and contained world (in a literal sense, too, which only becomes apparent in the show’s final moments). Easteal displays a powerful sense of restraint in her role, allowing Kurth the freedom to bounce off the walls and deliver her lines with glee of a child on a red cordial IV drip. The two have cleverly built up a strong method of constructing clearly defined characters and worlds in a way which one would expect could only emerge from a writer; Merophie Carr’s direction has clearly contributed to the tight arrangement of the piece.