The Captain's Boy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Captain's Boy


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THE CAPTAIN'S BOY, Bailiwick Repertory. Not to be confused with Bailiwick's family-friendly holiday musical, The Christmas Schooner, is The Captain's Boy, a different kind of nautical romp--a gay pirate musical by Clint Jeffries and Chris Jackson. But it's not The Pirates of Penzance minus Major General Stanley's daughters. A cross between Jeffrey and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, this travesty has too many levels to keep matters clear, let alone fun. The pirate plot involves assorted romantic intrigues, including a horny Spanish lady hot for the Captain, who prefers the title boy. But the pirates, it seems, are also mental patients whose buccaneer fantasies provide an escape from a medical dominatrix, first cousin to Nurse Ratched. And both worlds are really the creations of an insecure gay couple who project their problems onto the imaginary pirate ship and fictitious asylum.

Even overlooking the playwrights' disturbing connection between homosexual love and mental illness, there are just too many rings in this circus. Further confusing the picture are campy songs whose double entendres and forced rhymes suggest Gilbert and Sullivan, though the dialogue abounds with New Age reassurances. Kevin Bellie's staging unfurls its sails and shifts with the breezes, however, aided by strong work from Marc Foster and Kevin Jackson as the captain and his boy and Laura Keeling, delightful as the spitfire Spaniard and horrific as the needle-wielding nurse.

--Lawrence Bommer

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