by Gari Jones adapted from the novel by R L Stevenson.

The North Wall South Parade Summertown OX2 7JN To 9 January 2016.
10am 24 Dec.
2pm 21-24, 26-31 Dec, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 Jan.
6pm 21-23, 27, 28 Dec, 3 Jan.
7.30pm 26, 29, 30 Dec, 2, 6-9 Jan.
Runs 2ht 5min One interval.

TICKETS 01865 766266.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 December.

Lively adventure with colourful playing covering dramatic elisions.
Avast, me hearties, a few sinister arrivals down the Admiral Benbow inn and all’s set for adventure on the high seas, with mutiny and murder in the search for a dead man’s chest and all the pirate treasure it contains.

Adapter Gari Jones knows what he’ll be looking for when directing his script, and his experience with Oxford’s Creation Theatre and its Christmas shows probably means he could write with several specific actors in mind. This crew certainly has a hearty sense of purpose amidships and on the island.

There’s a lot to enjoy, including the wonder and quickening intelligence of Rosie Holt as the youngster at its centre, who is Jim Hawkins by choice, preferring it to her given name Jemima.

With a fair measure of women pirates it makes for a varied, energetic account, the arrogance of Trelivisey as the over-confident representative of law and order in a lawless situation more pointed than ever. In the songs it’s still fifteen “men” on a dead man’s chest, but suggestions for handling a drunken sailor all assume it’s a woman.

Tom Richardson’s upright Trelivesey contrasts Tim Wyatt’s cunning pirate leader, oozing round his crutch, while the piratical troupe also includes Clare Humphrey’s lithe figures, bringing a swift-moving menace and the sense of a mind two tricks ahead of her body as it jerks and writhes around the stage.

There are necessary elisions and omissions from the novel, made with minimum fuss and sometimes to advantage for a modern audience’s awareness of hints about plot and character.

Still, there are moments the script has to provide background in-fill, while some of the tension Stevenson builds in the early scenes – as atmospherically brooding as the early chapters of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps – evaporates in speed and an urge towards humour.

It’s a pity that there isn’t a bit more for the youth theatre members incorporated into the cast. They run across the stage several times, but might add more to the tension and sense of adventure. They, like the adult cast, are willing and able and make it exciting stuff.

Jim: Rosie Holt.
Silver: Tim Wyatt.
Trelivesey/Tom: Tom Richardson.
Bones/Arrow/Ana/Gunn: Clare Humphrey.
Dog: Robert Jackson.
Mum/Hands: Claire Andreadis.
Ensemble: Dominic Owen.
Youth Chorus: Anna Blake, Tom Blake, Isaac Riviere, Cici Xie/Olivia Keene, Celeste McCauley, Gigi McCauley/Didi Higdon, Siana Jacob, Madeleine, Rimer, Miranda Wallace.

Director: Gari Jones.
Designer: Ryan Dawson-Laight.
Lighting: Ashley Bale.
Sound: Matt Easton.
Composer/Musical Director: Gareth Jones.
Movement: Heather Douglas.
Fight director: Philip d’Orléans.
Associate lighting: John Welton.

2015-12-24 17:42:24

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