Treasure Island

Date 6th February 2016
Society Harleston Players
Venue Archbishop Sancroft High School
Type of Production Musical Play
Director Meryl Raines (Prod Helen Farrar)

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

Yo ho ho and a Bottle of  Rum...we are greeted on entry by Billy Bones, sitting and contemplating with a grog of rum in the Admiral Benbow Inn...

  Billy Bones(Steve Askew)immediately conveys the atmosphere of an old seedy dockside Inn as clearly described in the original RLS book! He breaks into a drunken ‘shanty’, interrupted by the entry of Jim Hawkins (Matt Brutey), who conveys the very soul of the character of Jim Hawkins, he is befriended by Billy who indicates the ‘secret’ hidden in his old sea chest...a secret much sought after by Black Dog (David Cumming), a real salty dog pirate, who deals what is to be a ‘fatal blow’ to Billy Bones...who in turn is dealt the Black Spot, the immortal mark of death, by the frightening embodiment of ‘death walking’, Blind Pew (Mike Davison), as he shuffles with surprising accuracy around the set! Just as I remembered it from the book...always a spooky moment!

 The scene is set around the very simple but effective composite set of rostra, rails and masts depicting the Inn and by cleverly furled sails with rigging and small moveable props (barrels, flags, ships wheel etc) converting to the ship board scene to follow. This evocative opening scene is, in effect, the ‘prologue’ to the intriguing tale of treasure seeking adventure...so eloquently described by RLS!

 The ‘gang’ of cut throat Pirates just blended so seamlessly into this scenario. The contrasting ‘elite’ upper class gathering of Dr Livesey (Maggi Hopkins) a well portrayed and committed medic. Squire Trelawney (Barry Givens) a ships owner used to living off the fat of the land and calling the shots, and Capt Smollett (Simon Evans) with a well delivered commanding air and determined attitude; also Mr Arrow (Emily Winter). This group is rudely interrupted by the ‘grand’ entrance of their key adversary Long John Silver (Andy Hallsworth) in only his second performance. He was outstanding, and totally conveyed the duplicity of his role, particularly in scenes with Jim Hawkins (Matt ) who provided the perfect foil to create moments of real tension and emotional turmoil which translated to the audience. This pair, even among this talented cast, lifted the story to levels of performance worthy of all the accolades that can be offered. A special mention for Flint the Parrot/John (Katy Croker) who although skilfully operated by a visible human was able to convey his ‘messages’ with humour and style! The whole ‘crew’ under their dubious self proclaimed leader and spokesperson, Israel Hands (Bob Good) supplied excellent support, and added a convincing and believable contribution to the story with their ‘sea dog’ portrayals and particularly with the boisterous rendition of the Sea Shanty led by George Merry (Annie Chapman), she relished the role and the addition of this song covered the clever set conversions carried out by the cast stage ‘hands’ adding excellent atmospheric continuity as the story unfolded. The strong male and some female Pirate crew were a real bonus and added a real ‘pinch’ of salty dog to each of their scenes. Excellent sound, lighting, and effects, with costumes to match, all contributing to another outstanding production from this prolific and talented group.

  We congratulate David Cumming their ‘retiring’ Chairman after 25 successful years and progress ‘at the helm’. I hope we will still see him...if he survives walking the plank! Well done ‘me hearties’...!