Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… AIRLOCK, Delivering Us a ‘Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy’ at Soho Theatre in 2024

Inspired by the true story of a freedom-loving outlaw roaming the Caribbean with her lovers, queer comedy Pansexual Pregnant Piracy looks set to tell the swashbuckling story of two eighteenth-century women forgotten from history. The tale of a pair of pirates breaking hearts and gender boundaries is the new offering by AIRLOCK, the team behind Lesbian Space Crime.

The show is aiming to serve up a mixture of raucous comedy and songs to tell the stories of Anne Bonny and Mary Read. We wanted to climb aboard the good shop AIRLOCK and uncover the secrets that have gone into Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy. Join us for a pixelated swig of rum as we sit down with show co-creators Eleanor Colville, Rosanna Suppa, and Robbie Taylor Hunt.

Catch Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy at Soho Theatre from Tuesday 16th March to Saturday 13th April. Tickets are available online.

Jake: Hi Eleanor, Rosanna, and Robbie – audiences last saw you team up for Lesbian Space Crime – tell us about what you’ve been up to since then and how your practice has developed.

Robbie: I would love to pretend we had a really spiritual creative retreat and are growing as artists but I just don’t know if that’s true. Feel like we just sprint head-first towards the things that seem funny and pray to the gay gods that someone likes it. And so far Zeus (gay) is on side. 

Rosanna: Sure we’ve done some creative, craft development stuff but Robbie’s given you those answers so let me fill in the other gaps. We’ve played video games together (we made Eleanor wash the plates in Overcooked). Els and I were the baddie and the stooge in a pantomime, I played Mary Lacy (another ‘cross dressing’ pirate) on stage and Robbie and I have continued to coparent a cat with an attitude problem.
RTH: We did do a sitcom-writing course together which was I suppose some actual craft-based development, ooh lah lah look at us. 

Eleanor: We’ve been making shows! I wrote an adult pantomime at Christmas which was fun because Ro was in it and they played the baddie – which was a fun reversal on our usual playing types where I am an evil thorn in Ro’s side (as in LSC and a little bit with PPP too). In addition to that, we have been working hard at trying to write sitcoms. We loved this so much we decided to film a pilot an episode. So it has been a good year for us, we’re more confident with our writing and that’s helping us branch out to try new things.

Jake: Give us a rundown of Pansexual Pregnant Piracy and what inspired you to create the show.

Robbie: As with Lesbian Space Crime, we want to make comedy theatre that allows queers to live and breathe in all their messy, chaotic contradictions. I really feel we are still just dipping our toe into representing queerness on stage and often it’s either harmful tropes or perfect-dream-queers. You can be a queer trashbag and not know who you are or what you want and be annoyed at your fellow LGBTQIA+ers sometimes and love them sometimes and Grand-Theft-Auto a naval vessel every now and again that’s all okay. 

Rosanna: There are few tales more sexy and daring than escape, especially escape to a seemingly lawless queer haven. The story of ‘crossdressing pirates’ is fairly well explored by history, there are loaaaads of examples, but when you view it through a hetero lens, maybe you’re missing bits? After LSC, we heard about Anne Bonny, we hyperfixated, and made a show about her in four months. Obsession breeds silly comedy, at least in our case.

Eleanor: Anne Bonny and Mary Read are pretty famous eighteenth-century pirates. We can’t know for sure, but there are several sources that suggest the two were lovers and certainly that they dressed as men. We also know that Anne had an affair with Captain Calico Jack, who also slept with men and women.  So that inspires the pansexual and the piracy and then the pregnancy was inspired by a loophole in anti-piracy laws at the time, that’d mean that if a pirate got captured and they were pregnant, they would often “plead their bellies” to escape death. Obviously they were ruthless, murderous, thieving pirates, but the whole queer utopia on a ship bit is pretty nice.

Jake: You describe the characters as ‘breaking hearts and gender boundaries’ – tell us about the process of working with the characters, their gender expressions, and how much fun you’ve had putting everything together.

Rosanna: Ok first things first, we’ve started from the point of queer-until-proven-innocent. That was fantastically easy, and then we’ve mapped those identities onto sort-of-analogues in the present day. We’re not here to say OMG THIS PIRATE WAS A TRANS PERSON AND THEIR PRONOUNS ARE DEFFS THEY THEM blah blah cos that’s just as reductive as assuming they aren’t. We also wanted to make damn sure they weren’t nice people. They are pirates, they kill for fun and booty and honour and more booty, so we found ways for their flaws to be super evident, it’s a puzzle to put together without making claims over the historical validity of anything. We also wanted to make the poly pansexual vibe super evident, again, easy, we just made everyone horny for each other.

Jake: You’re headed to the Soho Theatre later this month – tell us about the show’s journey arriving at this venue and what you’re excited for.

Robbie: Luckily we already had a good relationship with Soho after Lesbian Space Crime, because we sold well and didn’t burn anything down. So we started developing PPP in living rooms and cafés together, applied for some R&D space that we didn’t get so then continued to just write it in cafés, and eventually had a first bash at a script. We did a small showcase of the first draft for an invited audience and asked Soho to come along, they liked it, and invited us back. Joy! We’re so so excited to be back at Soho, it’s such a fun venue and the audiences there are so unique: they are keen for a good time and quick-witted, you can’t dawdle, and we love the challenge to keep it energetic and surprising. Sadly we don’t quite overlap at the venue with Monét X Change but the fact we nearly do is exciting enough for me too. 

Rosanna: Not overlapping with Monét is a REAL kick in the dick but we move, we simply must move. 

Eleanor: I’m very excited for the musical elements of the show which I think have really ramped up since Lesbian Space Crime. There are some cracking harmonies. I think a pirate show really lends itself to fun music. Soho felt like a natural home for the show and after such a good time there with Lesbian Space Crime we’re thrilled to be returning.

Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?

Robbie: The obvious answer is rum. But maybe that’s what straight pirates drink. What’s a queer pirate-y drink? 

Rosanna: A pint of salty sweat, scraped from the walls of Gal Pals/Pussy Palace/T-Boys Club and other queer LDN staple nights out. Maybe there’s Kirsch in it too because I love that shit. 

Robbie: Also probably need a non-alcoholic version considering the pregnancy vibes. We do encourage chaotic dirtbag queer life with our shows but I think we probably draw a line on encouraging pregnant people to drink booze. 

Eleanor: Ro has a funny line about this in the show – about people being drinks. I personally think this show would be a piña colada, but maybe that’s just because I like piña colada, it starts with a P (we love things that start with the letter P) and it has rum in it.

Catch Pansexual Pirate Pregnancy at Soho Theatre from Tuesday 16th March to Saturday 13th April. Tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: Cam Harle

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them