by Bryony Lavery.
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre,
25 November 2016 – 7 January 2017
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Pete Ashmore – Badger
Greg Coulson – Lucky Mickey
Andrea Davy – Red Ruth
Anni Domingo – Grandma Hawkins
Dave Fishley – Billy Bones / Grey
Ru Hamilton – Dick the Dandy
Michael Hodgson – Long John Silver
Kaitlin Howard – Joan the Goat / Fight Captain
Siân Howard – Dr Livesey
Andrew Langtree – Blind Pew / Smollett
Sarah Middleton – Jim
Tonderai Munyevu – Squire Trelawny
Suzanne Nixon – Mrs Crossley / Captain Flint
Daniel Norford – Killigrew
Thomas Pickles – Barney Bright Eyes / Ben Gunn
Dan Poole – Black Dog
Nicholas Prasad – Israel Hands / Dance Captain
Barnaby Southgate – Job Anderson / Show MD
Director – Phillip Breen
Designer – Mark Bailey
Composer / Musical Director – Dyfan Jones
Lighting Designer – Tina MacHugh
Sound Designer – Andrea J Cox
Movement Director – John Ross
Assistant Director – Sophie Paterson
Fight Director – Renny Krupinski
Parrots made by Craig Denston
Casting Director – Debbie O'Brien
Elizah Jackson – Stage Manager
Anne Baxter – Deputy Stage Manager
Cosmo Cooper – Assistant Stage Manager
by Clare Brennan
Christmas shows are a fabulous collective dream. In a dark space, lit by bright lights, we share stories old and new, scary and extraordinary. Children discover; adults rediscover. At the Birmingham Rep, the wooden stage is a wide, open space. Objects are few and simple: a weathered sea chest; a rigging of ropes; a tumult of sails; a treachery of trap doors. With such minimal means, director and designer Phillip Breen and Mark Bailey enlist the audience’s creative participation: we join their 18-strong crew of actor/singer/ musicians on a timber-shivering voyage to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
No imaginative overstretching is necessary, though, to appreciate adapter Bryony Lavery’s gender reassignments. Sarah Middleton’s Jim is perfectly pitched in that almostness of young adolescence reaching for adulthood, where boyness or girlness is subsumed in becomingness. It’s a clever touch, and humorous, to have Jim crossly keep correcting her crewmates’ assumption that she is a cabin boy. Similarly, the commonsensical characteristics Stevenson gives Dr Livesey are equally suited to man or woman, as Siân Howard ably demonstrates.
The devotion of Squire Trelawney’s loyal men gains in tenderness through Tom Ruth’s transition to Red Ruth – the developing rapport between master and servant delicately conveyed by Tonderai Munyevu and Andrea Davy. By contrast, Long John Silver’s scheming advances to the female Jim, as he attempts to get the youngster to hand over dead Captain Flint’s treasure map, become mouth-dryingly creepy: Michael Hodgson, quicksilvering between sly and vicious, is a study in unadulterated self-interest.
Scenes flow before us; shanties speed them on; Dyfan Jones’s music textures the action. Lavery’s text, while true to the spirit of the novel, places dramatic drive before fidelity to the plot. Encouraged by Jim, a young Ben Gunn (a shivering, quivering, cheese-craving mouse of a boy in Thomas Pickles’s mesmerising portrayal) discovers his courage in a warren of tunnels. The poetic justice of his action is expressed in an astonishing visual image: desperate arms stretching up from under the weight of his retribution.
by Tim Auld
“Girls need adventures, too,” says one of the characters towards the end of Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
I have an 11-year-old daughter who believes that female equality is her birthright, so I couldn’t agree more heartily and didn’t bat an eyelid at the fact that Lavery has recast Stevenson’s doughty cabin boy hero Jim as a girl. Nobody else in the audience seemed bothered, either – certainly not the five-year-old boy in front of me who was vociferously gripped from beginning to end by fear (sometimes rather too much fear) and expectation.
Lavery’s version of Stevenson’s classic was first performed at the National Theatre two years ago and opens here in Birmingham, with minor rewrites and a whole new production directed by Phillip Breen.
It’s not the most nuanced of children’s shows, but then Lavery would have been doing a disservice to her source material if she’d been all high-minded and stinted on the grog, the yo-ho-hos, the bottles of rum, the pieces of eight, and the proverbial 15 men on a dead man’s chest. There’s easily enough of that to keep pirate traditionalists happy without the whole thing descending into a Black Adder-style parody of “ahrr-harring” one-eyed, one-legged old salties.
Sarah Middleton makes a likeable Jim, so wholesome in manner that she wins the audience to her side by simply walking on stage in breeches, billowing white shirt and no-nonsense jolly-hockey-sticks ponytail firmly in place.
Middleton competed in the BBC talent show Over the Rainbow for the role of Dorothy in a West End production of The Wizard of Oz. She reached the final and the songs she sings here in her sweet, clear powerful voice bring some true stardust to her performance.
It would be very easy to play Long John Silver as a caricature, all beardy and swivel-eyed with a stump like a clunky rounders bat. Michael Hodgson (First Knight) does none of that, clean shaven as he is and surprisingly fleet on his crutch and prosthetic limb. He is dangerous, disreputable and shabbily attractive.
Between them he and Middleton cook up some emotional heat: there’s a wonderful scene where Silver teaches Jim – and the audience – how to navigate by the stars. Indeed, Hodgson’s Silver seems really to care for the out-of-her-depth young cabin girl before showing his true spots and turning on her. Even then, there’s a moment when they succumb to a sensually understated kiss.
Humour is rather thin on the ground, though Thomas Pickles raises laughs channelling Dobbie the House Elf from Harry Potter as Ben Gunn, and Dave Fishley is the comic turn of the night as the softly spoken Grey, to whom no one listens, though they should. There’s a high body count and some gruesome cut-throat deaths, not to mention a chilling moment when a puppet parrot plucks out a simpleton’s eyes.
It’s a slickly staged affair, designer Mark Bailey’s bare wooden stage rising magnificently on hydraulics to transform into the deck of a ship and descending again to evoke the exotic jungle of the island painted on Victorian-style canvases. The cast and crew succeed in conjuring up the magic, and I’d certainly return with my own children
by Mat Kendrick
Swashbuckle up and enjoy the ride that is Treasure Island at the Rep. Bryony Lavery’s action-packed adaption of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, exploring the voyage from adolescence into adulthood and recognising your friends from your foes, is delivered at a high rate of knots by a talented and versatile cast and crew.
Sarah Middleton, as Jim, offers a commanding presence from the moment she steps foot on the stage, with a voice as strong as the heroine herself. In a twist from the original adventure, playwright Lavery has made the part of Jim a female role and Middleton is the perfect choice to prove it’s not just boys who can have galleons of adrenaline-fuelled fun.
As Long John Silver, Michael Hodgson gradually allows the one-legged villain’s understated evil to bubble to the surface as he manipulates the audience the same way he does Jim and the crew, before getting his comeuppance. Thomas Pickles, impressive as Barney Bright Eyes, really raises the roof after the interval when he portrays with comedy and compassion the bundle of confused energy that is Ben Gunn. It’s not at all cheesy!
Dave Fishley also showcases his versatility with a dual role. He brings menace to the part of Billy Bones during a dark start to the performance that saw my kids Samuel and Eden shuffle closer to their mom and I as masked pirates stormed the stage. But later, as Grey, Fishley is a major player in the lighter moments of the show. He quite wonderfully goes from the periphery to the centre of attention, particularly during his amusing contribution to a brilliantly choreographed fight scene.
Special mention, also, for the outstanding set design. Without giving too much away there are special moments when the clever use of ropes conveys the swaying movement of the ship and when Dr Livesey’s medical bag contains Jim and tonics.
There are too many outstanding contributions to mention them all individually, from the performers, to the puppetry to the pulsating musical score and more. And just like the stunning special effects when the loot is finally located and the story sails to its denouement, there is so much to treasure.
by Selwyn Knight
As Robert Louis Stevenson said of Treasure Island, “it [is] a story for boys … women were excluded”, and its cast of characters certainly bears that out. But history also tells us that 18th-century women did do physical work and were even pirates. It is from this standpoint that writer and adaptor Bryony Lavery has started – recasting self-effacing hero Jim as a girl, albeit in breeches, and recasting some of the characters – for example, Dr Livesey – as women as well as introducing new female characters. Lavery’s pen has taken the spirit of Treasure Island and given it a contemporary twist with plenty of humour amid the adventure and tongue firmly in cheek at times. The result is a play that the whole family can enjoy, one that is full of unexpected twists and fun.
Jim and her grandmother find a treasure map after the death of Billy Bones, an eccentric and, frankly, scary guest at their inn. Inspired by the idea of treasure, Jim and other locals set off to sail to Treasure Island. But Squire Trelawney, a vain, pompous, self-important man, cannot maintain discretion and it seems everyone knows their quest, leading them, all unknowing, to hire a pirate crew, including the cook and leader of the pirates, the one-legged Long John Silver. He leads a mutiny as the seekers go ashore and mayhem ensues.
Lavery has taken Stevenson’s tale and rounded many of the characters as well as introducing new ones. It is maybe slow to get going – the events in the Admiral Benbow feel as if they take too long to recount – but once it does it barely pauses for breath. The large Birmingham REP stage is used to its full and filled with music from the actor-musicians and movement, for example in the numerous fight sequences. And the cast takes to it with gusto.
Sarah Middleton’s Jim, our narrator, is quite perfect in the role. Slightly perplexed as to the grown-ups’ behaviour, she has a strong moral compass and some beautifully funny asides to the audience. Her puzzlement at becoming a heroine and her determination to behave like one are particularly well drawn.
The moral ambiguity of Long John Silver is clear as played by Michael Hodgson. He is believable both when befriending Jim and when chilling leading his erstwhile shipmates. Hodgson brings a ruthlessness and determination to Silver that is really rather unsettling. His parrot, Captain Flint, is brought to glorious life through the puppetry skills of Suzanne Nixon.
Tonderai Munyevu as Squire Trelawney brings welcome light relief while Siân Howard provides a thoroughly dependable Dr Livesey. Together these make a great double act.
Among the more minor characters, Thomas Pickles’ Ben Gunn is wild-eyed and funny. He brings a great physicality to the role, skilfully avoiding going over the top. Dave Fishley takes the dual roles of Billy Bones and Grey. As Billy Bones, he fills the stage with menace as he calls for ever more grog, a truly unpredictable and unsettling character. Later, as Grey, he is quite the opposite. Much comedic mileage is made that Grey is essentially invisible, although he is ultimately able to turn that to his advantage.
With such an array of larger-than-life characters, the production could easily become pantomimic, but, despite there being some elements inspired by that form, the sure directorial hand of Phillip Breen ensures it does not cross that line.
A touch long at almost three hours including the interval, there is much to like about this often charming recasting of Stevenson’s tale, and the children present at press night certainly didn’t seem to be struggling with its length. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a better introduction to theatre, a splendid alternative to more traditional Christmas fare.
by Emma Cann
Originally commissioned by the National Theatre two years ago, Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Treasure Island swings into the Birmingham Rep for a lengthy Christmas run. This classic tale of adventure, buried treasure and dastardly pirates follows Jim Hawkins on a voyage to find the lost treasure of Captain Flint, with her friends Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney. When the unwitting squire hires a crew of undercover pirates, led by Long John Silver, the treasure hunt becomes a fight for survival.
Lavery has updated Robert LouisStevenson's 19th century tale of buccaneers and buried gold for a 21st century audience. Written over 200 years ago, it is hardly surprising that the original story includes only two female characters. In 2016, it is unacceptable to alienate half of your audience from the outset, so Lavery introduces a host of strong, sassy female characters.
Jim Hawkins is a feisty, independent teenage girl, on a quest to show that girls can have adventures too, aiming to prove herself a heroine in the process. Doctor Livesey is an intelligent, shrewd lady, despairing of the brash confidence of Squire Trelawney.
Sarah Middleton is endearing as Jim Hawkins, communicating with the audience to tell her story with comic frankness and a gently self-deprecating manner. She leads the cast in the musical numbers – a delightful series of complex sea shanties from composer Dyfan Jones – with a pure, ethereal voice.
Michael Hodgson is an enigmatic, complex Long John Silver. Both Jim and the audience are seduced by Long John, as he introduces us to the magic of the stars and teaches Jim to navigate using the constellations. Amid a web of rope and atmospheric, flickering lanterns, Hodgson lures us all in to a false sense of security. However, under the island sun, Long John Silver reveals his true colours. With a quiet, menacing voice, unpredictable bursts of rage and disconcertingly charming smile, Hodgson's Long John Silver is a dangerous enemy with bags of roguish charm.
The energetic ensemble work incredibly hard, bringing to life a ragtag assortment of pirates and peasants. Impressively versatile, the actors sing, dance, play instruments and operate puppets. Dave Fishley is particularly hilarious as Grey, a sailor so softly spoken he slips unnoticed through a raging fight and escapes the pirates' handcuffs.
Mark Bailey's stage design creates the excitement and allure of the voyage and the island itself. The ship Hispaniola unfolds from the stage, sails soaring upward with swaying ladders and a magnificent ship's wheel. A far cry from a paradise island, this is a literal mine of death and danger, with small trapdoors emitting squelching gurgles and fetid green light, ready to entrap greedy pirates.
Despite the exotic setting, Treasure Island is packed with Christmas magic a-plenty. The audience marvel at the impossible, from a squawking chicken that lives in a handbag (puppets brilliantly operated by Suzanne Nixon) to the doctor's bag into which Jim magically disappears, Mary Poppins-style, and a shimmering golden shower which deluges the stage in a final, breath-taking scene.
At times, this production is a little rough around the edges; the fight scenes and dance numbers could be tightened increase their impact and highlight extra moments of comedy. Also, due to the poor acoustics of the Birmingham Rep and strong pirate accents, sections of dialogue are often lost.
Treasure Island is a rollercoaster adventure that will inspire audiences of all ages with its gorgeous sea shanties, irreverent comedy, feisty female characters and intriguing set design.
"An epic adventure not to be missed" – What's On Birmingham
Redbrick Magazine (University of Birmingham)
by Imogen Tink
This year 'Treasure Island' is the Birmingham Rep's Christmas show. Prepare for some serious swashbuckling as Jim Hawkins and her motley crew set out on the quest to the infamous Treasure Island
Fascinated by pirates? Fancy an adventure? Then strap yourself to the mast of The Hispaniola and away we go! This year the Birmingham Rep’ festive spectacular is ‘Treasure Island’, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic children’s novel by playwright Bryony Lavery. This innovative production reinvents Louis Stevenson’s much loved tale very cleverly, exploring new ideas whilst maintaining its timeless moral message.
‘Treasure Island’ revolves around the life and adventures of one Jim Hawkins, who, through a series of unfortunate yet exciting events, finds herself on the quest to Treasure Island, following a map which will lead to an unimaginable hoard of treasure. Along the way she encounters Long John Silver and his fellow crew mates who mutinied three years ago from the good ship Walrus. What ensues is a thrilling tale of friendship, betrayal and adventure, where Jim finds out about the world, acts on her discoveries, makes mistakes and learns who she truly is in the process. Sarah Middleton’s portrayal of Jim, known as ‘Jemima’ to her grandmother, is electric. As our narrator throughout the course of the play, she creates a character that is energetic and expressive and extremely loveable. Although a female Jim may be difficult for some to understand, the fact that Jim is a girl highlights one of the key messages of this particular production: inclusivity. As Dr Livesy (Siân Howard), also originally a male character who is female in this production, says, “Girls need adventures too.” Jim learns far more through the joys, pitfalls and complications of her adventure than she ever would have done staying in the domestic sphere of her home, and develops into ‘a true, honest heroine’ who saves herself and her friends from the clutches of the perils of Treasure Island…
In addition to the superb acting talent of the cast, the rest of the production was outstanding. The stage at the Rep never fails to surprise me – it is always transformed into something completely unexpected. In ‘Treasure Island’ we saw the stage become The Hispaniola – I felt as though I was on that ship, and that I too was being tossed about in a storm. Mark Bailey’s set design was phenomenal. Characters would appear on stage from almost any angle, whether they swung onstage on a rope, or popped up out of the floor.
The performative transitions between scenes could have been complicated and stilted; casting a group of multi-talented actors who can sing sea shanties, dance, play musical instruments and still move the staging around in the process, is quite a theatrical feat. Yet the cast of ‘Treasure Island’ managed it with great aplomb, making the stage transitions an enjoyable feature of the performance and enhancing the whole production no end. Dyfan Jones’s musical direction was brilliant, as he adapted sea shanties to accompany the scene changes. Pete Ashmore, Greg Coulson, Ru Hamilton and Barnaby Southgate’s musical quartet was thoroughly enjoyable, as were the musical contributions from the rest of the cast. The final song of the show created a rousing and joyful finale, summarising the general mood of the entire performance.
‘Treasure Island’, although perhaps a little too scary for the smaller members of the audience, is a perfect show for children, teenagers and adults alike, as it gives several resonating messages. From the bare basics, it teaches us about the perils of greed, and the importance of friendship and family. Jim, as narrator, gives sharp and witty advice directly to the audience. At one point, having shown off about being in possession of the map to Treasure Island and promptly losing said map, she turns to us and says “I would counsel all present about bragging too soon.” Sarah Middleton’s timing is utter comic genius. The show goes further than simply these witty asides and, as is the purpose of theatre, stretches certain boundaries almost to the point of breaking; there is an uncomfortable moment where Long John Silver, an ambiguous enough character as it is, kisses Jim. After a pause, Jim steps out of the action and states “this is not the behaviour of a friend”. She uses her initiative and instinct to assess that the situation is “too grown up” for her, and removes herself from it. By doing so, Jim shows the younger members of the audience, of which there were plenty, that it is completely acceptable to distance yourself from behaviour that you are not comfortable with. Whilst I’m sure this has had mixed reactions, isn’t that the point of theatre? To adapt and subvert, to change characters genders, to alert us to other possible meanings? For this is something that this production of ‘Treasure Island’ has completely mastered.
A highly polished and mature production of a book that is so loved and so timeless; the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company have created a masterful performance that will appeal to all. ‘Treasure Island’ runs at the Rep until the 7th January. Catch Jim and her friends (and her enemies!) before this fantastic Christmas show sails away into the New Year.
by Phil Preece
Well it’s that time of year again when the Christmas shows start to twinkle one by one and this year the Rep’s got what I might respectfully call the posh panto with this elegant and extremely sophisticated adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic Boy’s Own adventure of all time, Treasure Island.
But this is no ordinary staging. This is state-of-the-art theatre with knobs on, pure RSC production values throughout.
For a start it’s got Bryony Lavery’s marvellous script, full of clever off-the cuff life-as-she-is-lived remarks and elegant jokes plus vividly varied characterisation that brings the story to jolting life.
The atmospheric opening sequence in the isolated inn on a freezing black night is enough to make the hair stand on end without the cast of genuinely scary nautical desperadoes who for some unfathomable reason are making this their port of call. After that the resulting adventure doesn’t let up for a minute.
The cast too is straight from theatre heaven headed by Sarah Middleton as proto-cabin boy Jim in bang-on traditional panto cross-casting that here somehow seems a surprisingly self-conscious nod to political correctness. Sian Howard is marvellous as Doctor Livesey, Tonderai Munyevu delightfully dithery as Squire Trelawney.
But it’s Thomas Pickles as the shipwrecked sailor Ben Gunn whose unexpected appearance dominates the second half. His extraordinary performance as the unhinged castaway poignantly dialoguing with himself and pining for cheese is both defiant and deeply comic announcing in my opinion the appearance of an enormous talent, in other words, a new star.
Director Phillip Breen’s production values really are first rate with a beautiful morphing set and marvellously atmospheric lighting from the freezing black night of the opening scene to the blazingly sunshiny tropical isle of the second half. And Mark Bailey’s costumes for this show are something special, sophisticated, endlessly inventive clothes channelling Vivienne Westwood’s iconic “Pirates” collection (with a nod to All Saints), worth watching for these alone.
But this whole audacious show never misses a beat, and my own concerns that it was perhaps too grown up for some children were easily calmed by the four year old in front of me who sat raptly throughout.
Behind the Arras
by Roger Clarke
“Ooh Arr Jim lad”, as Robert Newton might have said, “Avast and belay, what have the landlubbin’ blaggards done to 'ee, matey!”.
Robert Newton, of course being the real-life incarnation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver to anyone old enough for a free bus pass.
And whether his Long John would have taken to Jim lad as Jim lass we will never know but Birmingham Rep’s revival of the classic boy’s own adventure yarn has been given a new twist by writer Bryony Lavery, who sees it as merely showing girls can have adventures just as much as boys.
Thus Jim Hawkins is a rebellious teenage girl, still called Jim of course – let’s not get too adventurous – whose hackles rise at comments such as ‘maps are for men’.
Not that Jim’s gender makes any difference to the plot of what is a rollicking, spiffing yarn of bloodthirsty pirates, mutiny, treasure maps and Cap’n Flint’s gold. Sarah Midleton gives us a likeable Jim, who narrates the adventure, and throws in a few witty asides to lighten the action and show this is all a little tongue in cheek.
Perhaps necessary when Silver’s Parrot, also Captain Flint, a puppet, is a useful agent of persuasion due to his penchant for pecking out human eyeballs and eating them. A gruesome trait much enjoyed by many a small boy in the audience. Many a psychopathic parrot could now be added to list for Santa.
Also in the Treasure Island gender exchange programme is Dr Livesey, played by Siȃn Howard, and let’s be honest, without a little tinkering, Treasure Island really is a boy’s own adventure, boys only in fact, so a sex change doctor adds another female to the treasure hunt while Kaitlin Howard adds a little femininity – little being very much the operative word – as Joan the Goat with the chrome dome skull after the top of her head went missing. Not that a petticoat pirate would have been a shock even when the book was first serialised in 1881. Female pirates are well documented and were nothing new.
Silver is played by Michael Hodgson who has a nice line in unadulterated evil and contempt. He is a man with questionable loyalty ... let’s not beat about the bush, he has no loyalty. He is selfish, sly, greedy, deceitful and is not even on nodding terms with the truth. Logic says he is the villain but somehow, at least in the book, we all have a sneaky liking for him, perhaps the original lovable rogue. He is certainly the most complex character in the book where he shows a genuine liking and affection for Jim Hawkins, which, somehow, did not sit right when Silver took a more, should we say, carnal interest in this new look Jim.
In Treasure Island sex is what the gold is carried in.
Here Silver is perhaps short on the more endearing qualities, more violent and less dangerous than we expect. The charm, false as a nine bob note be it may, is missing so he is less likeable as a result.
Silver’s motley crew from Flint’s old ship, the Walrus, give us Badger, Pete Ashmore, who is a would-be leader except he complained he was always last to be picked, Dick the Dandy, played by Ru Hamilton, with his bespoke collection of knives for dismembering each part of the body and Israel Hands, who appears to be a South American sociopath played by Nicholas Prasad. Then there was Black Dog, played by Dan Poole, who seemed to use the same face tattooist as Queequeg in Moby Dick.
But we open with the evil Billy Bones, played by Dave Fishley, with his mysterious sea chest. His fight (fight director Renny Krupinski) with Black Dog was one of the most dramatic and convincing I have ever seen on stage. John Wayne would have been proud ... and would probably have joined in. Then there is Blind Pew, a nasty apparition and giver of the dreaded black spot, played by Andrew Langtree, with all three giving a frightening warning of a one legged man, giving Jim nightmares.
When Billy Bones shuffled off his mortal coil Fishley became ... Grey I think it was, who was ... well he was in it, I think. It was a lovely, funny performance from him. Without a programme you would never know it was the same actor.
And for dual roles Thomas Pickles steals the show as first Barney Bright Eyes, who falls foul of the parrot, and then Treasure Island’s resident person of diminished sanity as PC would probably have it, Ben Gunn, mad as a hatter, or in his case, a pair of hatters, Ben and ... Ben.
And sort of with a dual role is Greg Coulson as Lucky Micky who switches sides from the goodies to the baddies, i.e. the pirates, only to discover lucky can be a relative term.
With the secret of Bones’ chest discovered, the treasure map, Squire Trelawney sets about buying a boat and finding the treasure, being conned into hiring a crew of pirates by Silver.
The Squire is the local dignitary, upper class twit and pompous plonker, and is played with a flamboyant air of superiority and stupidity, with a dressing of cowardice, by Tonderai Munyeu.
So leaving behind Grandma Hawkins, played by Anni Domingo, and Mrs Crossley, Suzanne Nixon, with her noisy hen, the intrepid band set out under the command of Captain Smollett, a season seafarer played by Langtree again whose career as Pew was cut short, as was his throat.
The script keeps well to the original tale, except Stevenson had Silver surviving and escaping with a bag of silver. The party reach the island where mutiny ensues and the squire’s party and pirates battle it out for the treasure, good against evil.
It is a fast-paced adventure, directed with a hint of fun by Phillip Breen, with enough gore to keep small boys happy and a female hero for the girls, all helped by a cracking set from Mark Bailey with sails, a ship rising from the stage and very simple yet clever tricks to produce a seemingly bottomless trunk and a doctor’s bag Jim can climb into.
The modern trend of having actors double up as the band on stage was also in evidence and is a nice touch.
It all helps with the Rep’s huge stage, which gives us an inn, the island and the fully rigged ship all lit beautifully by Tina MacHugh. At three hours long, it can be a little wordy at times so is perhaps not the Christmas fare for younger children, the Rep suggest seven plus. The opening pace is a little slow to set the scene but once set it is a rollicking yarn for all the family.
Daniel Norford, Ru Hamilton, Dan Poole, Michael Hodgson, Barnaby Southgate, Kaitlin Howard, Greg Coulson, Nicholas Prasad, Andrea Davy. Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Photo © Pete Le May
Dave Fishley, Siân Howard, Thomas Pickles, Tonderai Munyevu, Sarah Middleton. Photo © Pete Le May
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