The Last Pirate
A swashbuckling tale for everyone over seven years of age involving sea battles, sword fights, lost teeth and treasure and a bit of cross dressing.
Martin and Mary Jones are twins who cannot bear to be separated. But one fateful day their lives are turned upside down and opened out by the arrival of Captain Jayne, a notorious female Pirate who claims that their father has a hoard of Spanish gold that belongs to her. When this treasure cannot be found she kidnaps Martin and journeys back to the West Indies. Mary Jones has sworn to her brother to find and rescue him: to this end she dresses as a boy and Joins an English warship under the command of Captain James Warren, pirate hunter and hater. An enthralling and humorous chase involving colourful but deadly pirates and doughty British sailors ensues until they all meet in battle on the treacherous sands of Fortune Isle.
From the original programme notes
The Golden Age of Piracy, as it is known, ended in the 1720s and we know this because of Captain Charles Johnson’s book – ‘The General History of the Pirates,’ published in 1724 and it has since been plundered by historians and novelists ever since – and me. This play, being called ‘The last Pirate’ does not of course refer to the last pirate of all time but the last pirate of the ‘Golden Age’ – when there was great treasure to be had from English, French and most notably Spanish ships from South America. On the last day of 1715 a treasure fleet returning from Havana to Spain was wrecked off the coast of Florida, a thousand men drowned and a fortune went to the bottom of the sea. The Spanish naturally tried to salvage it and ‘naturally’ British privateers tried to relieve them of it – for the good of the crown of course, which they did, netting a cool 120,000 pieces of eight. On their return to Jamaica however they found they had been branded as pirates – so they sailed off to join forces with many others of their ilk to the Bahamas, which for a couple of years became a ’receptacle and shelter of pirates and loose fellows’. They were ‘naturally’ a curse to English shipping and the Royal Navy began a relentless pursuit. Between 1700 and 1728 there were 27 trials and mass hangings, effectively eliminating most of the famous pirates and decimating the ranks of the pirate community. What happens in the ‘The Last Pirate’ can therefore said to occur just after these historic events – and likewise of course is all completely true and it surprises me that you haven’t heard of the famous female pirate Captain Jayne who’s exploits feature in the history that is about to unfold before you, or for that matter of the infamous Captain Warren who shot her husband in the foot and so on. Still, in these matters I come to the rescue and by the end of this evening’s entertainment you will be able to place Captain Jayne alongside many other real life pirates – such as Long John Silver and Morgan Adams, played so attractively by Geena Davis in the historically precise movie ‘Cutthroat Island’. You will have noticed that I have as yet made no reference to that other pirate phenomenon ‘Pirates of the Caribbean ’ because there is now a whole generation of children who think that pirates are either walking skeletons or half fish. Of course – it could be true.
What is undoubtedly true is that Pirates grip our imagination; they are romantic and yet fearsome. I was a young teenager when I first read ‘Treasure Island’ the greatest pirate book ever written, and in the character of Long John Silver, R.L Stevenson captures this duality perfectly – a very deadly father figure indeed. But perhaps there’s more to our parents than any of us ever really know?
‘The script is thoughtful, intelligent, ironic, allusive and provocative.’ David Adams, Western Mail
Minimum cast size
The play was written for a cast of 8 (2F-6M)
- Captain Jayne
- Captain Warren /Teach
- Squirm / Ed North
- Hack/ Lieutenant White
- Handsome Harry / Ugly Bob Pugh
- Jon Death / The Swordsman
The Last Pirate was commissioned by Gwent Theatre and Spectacle Theatre and toured middle-scale venues in Wales in spring 2007.