Dominic Allen’s adaptation of this old pirate classic is fast paced and good fun. What with the looming threat mutiny and the Blind Spot, the pursuit of hidden treasure and Jim’s coming of age, the pirate ship is a busy place - and, in this production, an entertaining watch.
The acting is of a good standard overall. Jim Hawkins, whose soliloquies keep us in the know, is a likeable hero - small and earnest, he’s a convincingly vulnerable new cabin boy in the midst of the mayhem. Long John Silver has a nice glint in his eye as he invites Jim to ‘come and ’ave a yarn with ole John’, but could have done with a little more charisma. Similarly, Israel Hans doesn’t quite manage the swagger he’s aiming for. However, the cast as a whole are appealingly energetic; their palpable enjoyment is infectious.
There’s a lot of plot to cram in, so it’s not surprising that the story feels slightly rushed in places. Or, for that matter, that some of the younger audience members were a bit restless towards the end. The nice humour manages to keep things lively. The comic potential of Blind Pew’s blindness is exploited to the full and so too is that of the cheese-obsessed Ben Gunn.
If the acting is occasionally a bit shouty, the technical side of things is excellent. The sound effects heighten the excitement of the numerous fights as gunshots reverberate around the stage. The thing I enjoyed most of all, however, required no overheads: the singing. The pirates’ frequent bursts into song provide a sort of aural backdrop to the show as a whole, and it’s very effective. Scene changes became enjoyable in themselves for this reason. This Treasure Island is an entertaining production, if not quite smart as bait.