TREASURE ISLAND, 4Star****, To 07 01 17, Birmingham

Treasure Island: Bryony Lavery, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson

Birmingham Rep: to 7 January 2017
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval
BO: 0121 236 4455

Review Alexander Ray Edser, 03 12 16

A great must see sea adventure
Bryony Lavery as adapted this well-known story into a lively theatrical event. It’s no surprise that she refocuses the story to bring more women into the tale and indeed to reflect the diversity of the society we now live within; what may surprise some is that the refocusing is done with wit, flair and often a gleeful dark gruesomeness. It is all a great delight.

The story moves with pace, but there are lovely moments of quiet conversation too. Long John Silver, for instance, showing Jim Hawkins how to navigate by the stars (and keeps us guessing as to whether Silver will turn out good or bad.) And a most beautifully executed meeting between Jim and Ben Gunn.

Jim, the cabin boy, is most definitely called Jim and is most definitely a cabin girl, Sarah Middleton is a great success. She performs with a lightness of touch that enables her to build a giant bridge from our world into theirs. Her feistiness has great charm, but Middleton never fails for a second to make her presence count.

It’s a big ensemble company full of strange and wonderful characters. Tonderai Munyevu is a splendid Squire Trelawney with a fabulously silly aristo accent and Michael Hodgson is a creepily frightening Long John Silver. Thomas Pickles is extremely moving as Ben Gunn.

Phillip Breen keeps the whole ship nicely afloat without patronising the children and Mark Bailey’s designs enable great fluidity. The moment Jim Hawkins sails the ship round the island is gorgeous as is the final scene on the island itself. My only qualm in all this is that some performers (particularly those with big ‘character’ voices) lack vocal clarity and this muddies the story-telling, particularly in the first half.

But it’s still a great swashbuckling adventure.

(Credits to follow)

2016-12-04 12:51:14

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