This bold take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale is as clever as it is dark.
Watching Bryony Lavery’s clever and always engaging adaptation of this adventure story, the audience are effectively swept into a world filled with pirates, danger and lively characters – brilliantly brought to life in Polly Findlay’s authentic and daring production.
In this adaptation Jim Hawkins is in fact Jemima Hawkins, a girl frustrated by the lack of opportunities for a girl – until an encounter with pirates leads to a discovery of a treasure map and an adventure she couldn’t have possibly imagined.
Bringing it all to life, the incredible set design by Lizzie Clachan is an incredible achievement with so many elements that can be changed and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle – that it is worth watching to see it in action. No spoilers really – but to watch the ship taking shape is an impressive spectacle.
This is just one aspect of Findlay’s production that is clever. Bryony Lavery’s adaptation is suitably dark and enhances the adventure elements of the journey to perfection, but also balancing this out with a quirky sense of humour provided by some eccentric characters, vividly brought to life by the cast. Everything has been carefully brought to life, with the songs and music provided by Dan Jones and John Tams adding an extra bit of authenticity to proceedings.
Suitable for those aged ten and above, this is a production that is family friendly in terms of characters and the sense of adventure but also remains faithful to the original story. It has been designed to spark imagination and to remind us of the power of live theatre. This is particularly seen in the way the pirates take over the ship or the quiet and understated way that Long John Silver look up at the evening stars.
The cast offer some lovely characterisations. Patsy Ferran as Jim gives a gutsy and enjoyable performance, scampering across the stage with a childlike exuberance that she completely inhabits from start to finish. Elsewhere, Arthur Darvill is immensely charismatic as Long John Silver, never going over the top in the way in which he portrays the villain. It is an understated and charming performance that allows the audience to see why Jim was taken in by him, while Joshua James as Ben Gunn is wonderfully energetic and Tim Samuels as Grey constantly offers some dry witted comedy relief.
This is such a lively and enjoyable production of a story that always sparks the imagination.
By Emma Clarendon
Treasure Island is available to watch as part of National Theatre at Home until the 23rd April via Youtube.