Rosanna Suppa and Robbie Taylor Hunt on Pansexual Pregnant Piracy at Soho Theatre

Created by Airlock’s Eleanor Colville, Rosanna Suppa and Robbie Taylor Hunt and inspired by the true tale of a freedom-loving outlaw roaming the Caribbean with her lovers, Pansexual Pregnant Piracy tells the story of two eighteenth-century women forgotten from history. Disguised as a man, Anne Bonny stows away on Captain Calico Jack’s pirate ship and becomes his lover.

When fellow gender-bending seafarer Mary Read crawls aboard, the ship’s course isn’t the only thing that’s no longer straight. Breaking hearts and gender boundaries, the trailblazers leave behind a stream of looted treasure and treacherous ex-lovers, fleeing the shadow of the Pirate Hunter General who dreams of taking down piracy and pansexuality.

Subverting historical narratives, this outlandish comedy with songs tells the ne’er-before-seen queer tale of two forgotten mistresses of the sea who left behind the land and the patriarchy to be pirates at large.

We caught up with Suppa and Hunt to find out more.

Q&A with Rosanna Suppa and Robbie Taylor Hunt

How did you come to found AIRLOCK?

Robbie: Starting out and unsure what the hell to do we staged Bryony Lavery’s Kursk at Edinburgh Fringe but switched some genders and made some characters queer. We needed a company name and the show is set on a submarine and submarines have airlocks so…PERFECT! We then moved into wanting to do new writing only, doing a lot of R&Ds and working with early-career writers, and putting on plays in pub theatres and fringe spaces. Then that’s just snowballed with lots of slog over the years. I think what’s remained is a broad understanding of what queer theatre is: sometimes we are doing a show called PANSEXUAL Pregnant Piracy or LESBIAN Space Crime, where the LGBTQ is front and centre, other times we are staging stories where some characters are queer but it’s not the centre of the plot, like Tuna (VAULT Festival 2020), and like we did back in that first submarine venture.

Rosanna: I didn’t, Robbie did hehe. I’m an interloper that joined when I sniffed out a shmuck making queer theatre. I jest, I wanted to join up with my dear friend and just develop and work and put on cool, weird, funny theatre and now here we are! We also did a space show so the name ‘Airlock’ is a little applicable there too?

What can you tell us about Pansexual Pregnant Piracy?

Robbie: I can tell you that I don’t think I’ve successfully done a PPP show yet without at least slightly laughing on stage. It is so fun to do this show and I think we bring the audience into the shared queer shenanigans. I think everyone on stage is so funny and brilliant and I’m so lucky to get to watch them scream ridiculous stuff at my face every day.

Rosanna: I can tell you, watching your best mates pretend to be three tiny men, or complain about a tempestuous baking career, or fantasising about dead Labradors (it’s a joke in the show I promise it’s funny) is the most dizzifyingly joyous way to spend an hour in a hot room. You’ll have to see it to spot these Easter eggs, but I’m never happier than when we’re dancing through this show.

How did you first learn about this true story?

Robbie: I’d heard tidbits about it here and there then saw some Instagram content about it properly. It was just TOO JUICY to ignore.

Rosanna: I’d heard of them a few times, and then I got to grips with the work we wanted to make and my own masculinity and went HANG ON this is poifect! So I went on a Google deep dive and consumed as much as I could.

How does it feel to be taking the show to Soho Theatre?

Robbie: Without being NAFF and CORNY it is such a DrEaM cOmE tRuE. We love Soho and it’s such a perfect venue for our style of ridiculous comedy. Audiences who come along feel so on board and game for a weird laugh. It’s so fun.

Rosanna: As Robs said, it’s brilliant. It feels like we have won a competition. Maybe it’s a prank.

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from the show?

Robbie: I hope they take away a readiness to say “that was really funny and good” to all their mates and to the important people at Soho so we keep getting brought back for more of the same. Lesbian Space Crime, Pansexual Pregnant Piracy, what could be next…? Voting opens soon.

Rossana: I hope they take away that they will email the theatre and go on hunger strike until Soho give us a Main House slot. Maybe also they take away that they got to laugh a lot in a world that denies them the— ONLY JOKING I want them to buy us a beer and strategise about how we come back for more shows.

Pansexual Pregnant Piracy is at Soho Theatre until 13 April 2024