By John Van de Ven

In a world flooded with pirate tales, one can easily miss the story of Grace O’Malley, The Dark Lady of Doona. A pirate tale more epic than any other I know of, and more legendary than any of the most famous pirates. Bold Grace: the Voyages of the Pirate O’Malley is an epic story of adventure, battle, love, loss, revenge and regret.

The young Grace O’Malley (played by Anna Richardson) grew up on the seas, taking notes from her father’s shadow, learning a sailor’s life, and always keeping her eye on the horizon. She quickly learns to fight and defend herself, as she fights by her father’s side. She proves to be a formidable opponent, taunting her foes as she cuts them down with great fury!

But Grace’s life isn’t all fighting and sailing, there are expectations she must live up to. Married off at a young age, Grace finds herself the wife to the Chieftain Dónal O’Flaherty. While Grace loves Dónal, she recognizes his problematic leadership, and works behind the scenes to ensure that her clan-folk are being taken care of. She proves to be so reliable, the people of her clan begin to rely on her exclusively to get anything done.

Eventually Dónal’s behavior leads to his demise, and Grace takes full advantage. Suddenly she is in charge of a fleet of ships, and the seas open up to her again. Grace loves everything about the sea, it is truly her freedom, as she sails from place to place going into battle with her rivals, fighting beside her men, and falling in love with other swashbucklers.

Grace O’Malley didn’t seek fame, she sought to live life on her own terms in a time when most men didn’t have that option, let alone a woman. She was indeed a hero to her people and an inspiration in modern times. Grace teaches that stereotypes are meant to be broken, and that expectations should only matter if they are your own.

Bold Grace: the Voyages of the Pirate O’Malley (directed by Taylor Davis) kicks off BAT Theatre’s second season of its Shelter-in-Place series that aims to provide live theater in a safe and responsible manner. Bold Grace is a monologue driven adventure story based on the real-life exploits of Grace O’Malley and takes place between 1530 and 1603. Most of the story takes place around the isles of Ireland and England.

Anna Richardson’s performance is both energetic and lively, she perfectly embodies Grace. While this isn’t the first time Richardson has played Grace, she delivers a powerful and enjoyable solo performance in a very limiting format.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bold Grace. Everything from the live music playing in the background during the show, to Richardson’s performance hearkens back to a day when we could cram into a theater together, shoulder-to-shoulder, and share our tub of popcorn, and watch a live performance. It’s a fun break from social distancing, and I highly recommend checking it out if you miss theater!

There are two more opportunities to catch Bold Grace: the Voyages of the Pirate O’Malley, on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. For more information on Bold Grace and the donation link, please visit

Because this is a different format than most will be familiar with, I will add a few tips to maximize your viewing pleasure:

    • Take advantage of waiting the half hour before the show starts to allow ample time to adjust your settings.
    • Make sure to mute your mic and turn off your webcam if you have one.
    • Make sure that the button in the upper right of your screen says “Speaker View”
    • Pour your favorite beverage, sit back and relax.

While this second season of Shelter-in-Place is not the same as going to see an actual BAT Theatre show, it does offer a number of comforts to the alternative. Snacks and drinks are only limited to what you have at home, clothing is optional, as long as you avoid using your webcam, and you get social distancing approved live theater!

A full list of this seasons productions, along with donation links, can be found at

The BAT Theatre has been performing shows in the Puget Sound area for over 40 years, and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity that relies heavily on ticket revenue, donations and volunteer help.

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