Gobsmacked Theatre Company and The Pleasance Theatre Trust present the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Premiere of  ONCE WERE PIRATES  by award winning playwright, Emilie Collyer.  Supported by Arts South Australia

 ONCE WERE PIRATES investigates notions of contemporary masculinity and in particular how young men navigate a complex and dangerous world without a unifying code of values to guide them.

 Shane and Gareth are Pirates who have somehow been marooned in the present. They soon learn that the world of the present is vastly different from the world they have come from – it is infinitely more confusing and frightening. As Shane says, ‘this world is a nightmare. People fueled by self- pity and entitlement with no moral code. The wealthy – a master race apart. It’s dusk in the second age of reason.’ And as Gareth says ‘We can’t stay here. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. The mass exodus, the diseases and the accidents, the drownings and tragedies and killings…children… Everything! The world.’ How will they survive – how will we all survive? The production incorporates original songs, striking visual imagery and a robotic parrot called Dennis.

ONCE WERE PIRATES features two of Adelaide’s finest young male actors Joshua Mensch and Kyron Weetra and is directed/produced by David McVicar.

Tickets can be booked in the following way:

Online:        Pleasance.co.uk

24 hours, Monday – Sunday

By Phone:   Edinburgh: 0131 556 6550    09:00 – 22:00 (Monday-Sunday)

London: 0207 609 1800       10:00 – 18:00 (Monday-Sunday)

In person from the Edinburgh Box Office at The Pleasance Courtyard or The Pleasance Dome


For high res photos please go to


Venue:  Pleasance 10 Dome – Venue 23

Performance dates:  2/8/17 – 27/8/17 (not 14th & 15th) at 13:20 Running time: 60 minutes

Tickets: £6.50 – £11

First review date 2/8/17 at 13:20 – To book review tickets for this show please contact The Pleasance Press Office 0131 556 6557 press@pleasance.co.uk

Media contact: David McVicar email: hanfred@chariot.net.au

Mobile: +61 (0) 431501176





DROPPED by Katy Warner 2016

DROPPED  is an intriguing and confronting tale of the psychological struggle faced by women on the frontline of contemporary warfare. Two female soldiers are haunted by the unspoken trauma that bubbles to the surface as they attempt to cope with their hopeless situation. Unknowingly abandoned behind enemy lines they sort through the rubble in an attempt to find a sense of purpose. Sleep deprived and under severe stress they play games to hide uncomfortable truths and inconsistent memories. They must follow orders to protect the base but the room is filling with snow, they’ve run out of vodka, the radio is broken and the baby won’t stop crying.

 DROPPED will resonate differently for every member of the audience whether that’s the way the play deals with war, motherhood, the future, the military, gender, relationships, children, memory, or history.


British Theatre Guide Review of DROPPED


Katy Warner

Gobsmacked Theatre Company

Pleasance Courtyard

From 03 August 2016 to 28 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Two female soldiers rest on their packs, one clean uniformed, sharp-eyed and carrying a rifle, the other bedraggled, blood spattered and fed up. They talk, abstractly, in short sentences about a half forgotten, half repressed past. How did they get there? What has befallen them? Where exactly is here?

Dropped takes cues from the best of the surrealist theatrical tradition, and most closely draws comparions to Beckett, with the added flavour of a smattering of Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildernstern. But, rather than opting to ponder the nature of existence, Dropped peers into ever-current topics of women at war, and the perils of western military forces in the middle east.

It’s a subtly emotive piece, drawing deep on the reserves of young actors Sarah Cullinan and Natalia Sledz, showing them move skillfully from childish banter, to frantic despair and unsettling horror as the play progresses. Hinting continually at people and events that are evoked but never grounded in too much detail.

While there are sections that do outstay their welcome, as do some of the more repetitious moments of the dialogue, the brilliance of the piece lies in that it keeps its answers carefully vague and subject to multiple interpretations, making Dropped a play that will sit with you long after the house lights have come up.

Reviews of Dropped @ Adelaide Fringe

Dropped Poster (2) 

★★★★½  Lucy Haas  in GREAT SCOTT

Two soldiers wait in a room covered in camouflage gear. Outside is mostly rubble and the horizon. Dark things lurk unmentionable in the past and the future, and they’ve run out of vodka. Something like snow falls intermittently with a dull roar. Theatre like this – heightened, surreal, absurd – can be utterly wonderful or utterly abstruse, with little middle ground. The further a world or a setting is abstracted from the one we’re familiar with, the harder the production needs to work to maintain our connection to it. When it doesn’t work, it’s dire. When it does work – and Dropped unquestionably works – it’s transcendental. We’re firmly locked on the characters, the push-and-pull of their relationship, the practicalities of their situation. But the curious, not-quite-natural language, the strangeness of set and setting, and the myriad underlying tensions create deeper resonances above and below the simple traffic of the stage.Plays like this live and die in the spaces between what we’re told and what we experience. Gaps in exposition and explanation are left quite deliberately to be occupied by the monsters in our own basements. The resonances are going to be different for every member of the audience, whether that’s the way the play deals with motherhood, war, the future, the military, gender, relationships, children, memory, history. This kind of work doesn’t present answers – or even questions in any conventional sense. It simply evokes, and trusts the dust (or the snow) to settle on its audience in whatever pattern suits their own internal landscape. (It goes without saying that all this is only made possible by the immense skill of the actors and the director.)This is also what theatre is best for. Something in the quality of a live performance – the interaction of shared space, the presence of the performers, the tangibility of set and sound and light – is absolutely essential to that curious sense of suspension, significance, transcendence. Dropped is the kind of show that will remind you why we still go to the theatre in an age where cinema, television and all the wonders of the internet all compete so fiercely for our attention.

Samela Harris – The Barefoot Review

There in the White Queen are two female soldiers in desert cam fatigues, holed up in a bunker draped in sandy-coloured camouflage netting. It’s quite a scene, made even more dramatic when, in a great whirring burst, sleety snow gusts out of a vent. On a hot night on the Fringe, it’s surprising how the stuff lies about on the stage. The incongruity of the snow is one of the things one contemplates when experiencing this offbeat theatre piece by Katy Warner. It is like Waiting for Godot meets the War in Iraq. The two soldiers are just passing the time, stranded somewhere, nowhere in a war zone That’s all there is to do. Get on with the waiting. Talk the same talk. Play an imagination game – or not. Pretend they have some vodka. Argue about what’s in the rubble. Reflect on the business of killing, on rotting
flesh, the survival of a baby. They are afraid, exhausted, fatalistic, perhaps losing the battle to stay sane. They are PTSD in the making. Adelaide actors Suzannah Kennett Lister and Sarah Cullinan are directed by David McVicar in this tight little production. They establish character and sustain tension. Despite the heat in the White Queen, the play and the good performances take ownership of the audience. It is a relevant, meaty, interesting think piece, a credit to the Fringe.


Previous Productions

Anna Robi & The House Of Dogs

By Maxine Mellor. Directed by David McVicar. Gobsmacked Theatre Company. The Studio @ Holden Street Theatres, Adelaide. February 23-March 8, 2015

Anna Robi

Those in the mood to see something grotesque and shocking at this year’s Fringe Festival will certainly get their money’s worth from this extravagantly vulgar play.

Anna (Hannah Nicholson) is a mousy office worker in her late teens whose life has become consumed with caring for her foul-mouthed, misanthropic, agoraphobic, hypochondriac, slothful hoarder of a mother (Emily Branford). In order to cope with the extreme emotional abuse dished out to her daily, Anna creates an elaborate fantasy life in which she imagines an idealised “knight in shining armour” will come to her rescue and they will live happily ever after in a state of wedded bliss. Unfortunately, the only other human connection Anna manages to establish is phone-sex with Roger (Phil Harker-Smith), a pervert whose number she discovered through a newspaper ad.

Maxine Mellor’s script is an example of black comedy that crosses the line twice, she piles on the tragic psychological trauma and grotesque indecency (including masturbation, defecation and doggy-sex) so thick that one’s gut instinct is to laugh hysterically at the cartoonish extremity of it all.

The snappy, spitfire chemistry between Nicholson and Branford enhances the script’s unhinged intensity. Branford never attempts to humanise this caricature of an overbearing mother, hamming it up to monstrous levels of pure evil. Nicholson, in an effective contrast, plays every scene, no matter how ludicrously absurd, with fiercely determined earnestness and sincerity. Harker-Smith offers solid support as both the idealised macho hero of Anna’s fantasies, and the nerdy creep she encounters in the real world.

McVicar’s set design is simple but vividly illustrates the squalid filth of Anna’s existence and Simon Ritchie’s lighting and sound design (especially his incorporation of several Doris Day songs into the soundtrack) effectively distinguish the fantasy and real-world sections of the play.

This is not a show for the squeamish, and there are many who I’m sure will be offended by the very idea of treating this situation (loaded with abuse and mental health issues) as a source of comedy. Still, The Fringe season is a time when many people want to be confronted, and this deliberately provocative and sensationalistic play has been brought to the stage with a great deal of flair by Gobsmacked Theatre Company. Adventurous theatregoers looking to be challenged should definitely check it out.

Benjamin Orchard

February 26, 2015 by Lucy Haas


It’s not easy to find love. Harder still when you happen to share a bed with your chain-smoking, dog-breeding, catalog-obsessed mother. But Anna is determined to try.

This dark, surreal little play is set mostly in Anna and her mother’s claustrophobic and evocatively filthy bedroom, with the titular dogs represented by a series of puppets that range from rather sweet to pure nightmare fuel. It’s definitely not a show for the squeamish. The script, by Australian playwright Maxine Mellor, is fast, funny, and extremely filthy. Do not bring children. I repeat: do not bring children.

The action moves from dream sequence to squalid reality, and the lines of fantasy are quite deliberately blurred. It would have been easy for this play to completely lose touch with reality and break down into irretrievable absurdity. But the excellent cast expertly tread the fine line between the ridiculous and the real – there are certainly farcical elements here, but we always keep one foot grounded in the real. Anna’s heartfelt desire for independence and freedom, warped as it is by her peculiar upbringing, rings true, and that simple, truthful core sustains the audience’s emotional investment through all kinds of chaos.

A filthy, bizarre, very funny, very dark piece of theatre. Get along to Holden Street Theatres – there’s so much more to the Fringe than what you’ll find in the CBD. 4 1/2 Stars