You’re a Good Man, Doctor Pirate explores two streams of English’s own life. Her journey through religious belief, and how she met her boyfriend. The show centres around an event which collides the two, specifically an astrological reading gifted to English by her mum for her 30th birthday. The show is founded on the way this reading shook English’s beliefs and led her to analyse everything people put faith in. English weaves between the two rapidly and seamlessly with bizarre and joyous tales covering everything from bible stories to plovers.
Her stage presence is phenomenal. She fills the fringe festival’s largest venue with charismatic ease, a feat which few ensembles have achieved this year, let alone solo acts. Tech is largely absent and frankly unnecessary. Her only prop, is the cider she sips on throughout the show. It’s just a performer, and their audience for 70(ish) minutes of comedy and storytelling, and English holds our attention the whole way through.
English welcomes us into the space in bright pink, foil pants and informs us “you’re going to have some work to do here because I need to run all the way to the stage. I need you to applaud for about 25 seconds ok?”. Already, we are happy to oblige. In the opening few moments, someone heckles something forgettable from the third row. “Alright, strike one buddy” English quips with a smile. This is her show. Strap in and hold on tight because this is the rollercoaster of stand-up shows.
The thing that makes this show genuinely interesting and engaging is English’s exploration of belief systems. She asserts that we all believe in something, otherwise we’d have stayed home. Her stories explore fear, religion, astrology, the writings of C.S. Lewis. I find myself thinking about my own belief systems and how they inform my day-to-day behaviour. My only criticism of the show is that we do not end with more of this to chew on. Now I’m a massive nerd, and lots of audience members won’t care so much about the intellectual content but I’m less interested in English’s miraculous meeting of her partner and more interested in her intelligent and entertaining unpacking of the stupid things we centre our lives on. What I know from the show though, is that English doesn’t care what I think, and I’m 100% ok with that. This is one of those shows which is already well crafted, and any blanks are more than filled by performative excellence.
Could this show do with a little bit polishing? Yes. Could some lighting and sound add production value? Yes. Does anybody in the audience care? Absolutely not. It’s a rollicking good time and a thoroughly filling main course of comedy story-telling.
You’re a Good Man, Doctor Pirate runs until Saturday 14th March at Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui theatre. Tickets are available on the fringe website.