Well, you’ve got to give Defiant this much: If nothing else, the eleven-year-old theater company is consistent. The troupe’s newest show, “The Pyrates,” now at the Chopin, is as messy, chaotic and lacking in focus as any of its other recent efforts. Based on George MacDonald Fraser’s 1983 historical novel about seventeenth-century swashbucklers, damsels in distress and thievery on the high seas, the Defiant adaptation (by Richard Ragsdale and director Justin Fletcher) is a send-up that never quite got sent. Clocking in at nearly three hours (including two intermissions), the production’s innumerable scenes appear trapped in an uncongealed, stewy sludge of theatrical flotsam and jetsam. JB Waterman plays Avery, the story’s hero, with a nice Errol Flynn-like panache; he has the lanky, elegant good looks (and mustache) to pull it off. The three women who fall for Avery—Katherine Ripley’s very proper Lady Vanity, Erika Ratcliff’s sex-cat Sheba and Laura Scheinbaum’s petite Spanish lovely, Meliflua—are also generally quite good. But the rest of the 31-member ensemble—assorted pirate types—are basically filler, a stage full of actors hurling “Argh’s” and “Yar’s” like so many kegs of grog. It’s kinda funny when squinty-eyed Captain McAllister does it on “The Simpsons,” but not so funny here. Even the updated jokes are less-than-original: When women spot the dashing Avery, the chorus of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” blips into audible range. Fletcher seems to be going for full-tilt action-adventure, but the show lacks wit—and a clever sense of humor can go a long, long way in this genre. Defiant has been producing unwieldy shows like this for more than a decade, and at this point the troupe seems a bit long in the tooth for it. How does a theater company evolve and mature and still retain its founding oomph and renegade spirit? Defiant has yet to answer that question. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.