Stage review: Treasure Island - Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Treasure Island at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.
Treasure Island at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough.
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This is Treasure Island – Jim – but not as we know it.

There is the Hispaniola, a thirst for rum and riches – but this version has rapping pirates, a seagull called Kenny and a mechanical crab.

In fact the reworking of Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic children’s adventure in which ship’s boy Jim Hawkins goes in search of doubloons has all the hallmarks of a Nick Lane adaptation.

That is in the tradition of previous years’ A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland – it’s silly, crackers, barmy and bonkers wrapped in warmth, good cheer and tinsel topped off with a sparkly star.

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We have Long John Silver with a carrot instead of a parrot on his shoulder – the vegetable says “five a day” instead of “pieces of eight”, a Ben Gunn obsessed with cheese and a Squire Trelawney who is a woman wearing a false moustache.

Local references – including the Newcastle Packet, Boyes and Danny Wilde – are affectionately woven into the script. The essence of Stephenson’s story is there as are all the main characters including Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney, Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Mrs Hawkins, Billy Bones, Blind Pew and Ben Gunn.

These characters and more are brought to life by a multi-talented cast of five – Alice Blundell, Niall Ransome, Ben Tolley, Marcquelle Ward and Scarlet Wilderink.

They sing, dance, play musical instruments, sword fight and act their way through the tale of adventure. Ward is the only one who plays a single character – Jim Hawkins and he is the lynch-pin of the production. When chaos ensues around him, he is a solid, likeable cheeky anchor in choppy seas.

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The bespoke score is by Simon Slater and has nods to sea shanties played on guitar and accordions.

There is also a fantastic rap battle between the pirates, and Ben Gunn has a song all about his favourite thing – cheese. It is indeed cheesy and great fun. On director duty this year is Erin Carter. She manages the action with lightness of touch.

4 stars

To December 29