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Swordfights and Savages

‘Scrimshaw’: A piece of whalebone, intricately engraved and highlighted with ink, a common past time by sailors in the 18th and 19th century- TRUE or FALSE?’

This, a quiz show question from 30 years ago, brings a new musical to life. Karen Rhodes recalls how ‘scrimshaw’ has fascinated her since childhood and provided a springboard for her latest script.

Following the success of several short plays, performed at the Pump House theatre in Watford, Karen has fulfilled her ambition to write a musical, alongside Lee Farman, the artistic director at the Pump House CYT and George Wells, who have composed the music.

‘My aim has been to create something visually exciting and fun for the cast to perform, with colourful characters and an interesting plot.’

Pirates is the key element but with a realistic style as opposed to Pantomime. Those that have seen a sneak preview have described the musical as ‘Les Miserables meets Pirates of the Caribbean’.

‘During my research I came across a bizarre incident in 1731 between the Spanish Costa Guardia and a British trading ship, resulting in ‘The Battle of Jenkin’s Ear’, something I couldn’t resist including. Thereafter a strong Spanish influence developed, providing passion to the script and music.

Set in the early 18th century, we are lead from England to the Americas after the death of an infamous pirate. Pieces of scrimshaw belonging to his favoured offspring reveal clues as to the whereabouts of their father’s hidden fortune and their quest begins. This swashbuckling adventure is an intriguing mix of danger, deceit, romance, comedy and compassion, set to stunning new music.