Tweetingit: 4* A one-legged man with a parrot on his shoulder looking for treasure never fails to grip the imagination. A classic story refreshed and rebooted for the London stage.
For a novel first published in 1883 Treasure Island remains an enduring classic. No less than nineteen film and TV adaptations have been made including animated features and a memorable Muppet movie. The story’s appeal lies in the spirit of adventure and promise of untold riches, fighting with pirates and stealing away hidden treasure. We played this story out in our minds as children and this excellent production recreates the magic once again.
Old sailor Billy Bones (Aidan Kelly) takes up lodging at the Admiral Benbow Inn on the English coast. Innkeeper’s child Jim Hawkins (Patsy Ferran) learns of a one-legged seafaring man while Bones fights with old shipmate Black Dog (Daniel Coonan). A blind beggar called Pew (David Stern) later tempts Bones with the promise of a map showing buried treasure. However, Bones dies of a stroke shortly afterwards as Pew and cronies lay siege to the Inn. Hawkins and her mother escape with a package taken from Bones’ belongings. The package contains a map of an island where infamous pirate Captain Flint had hidden treasure. With the help of Dr Livesey (Alexandra Maher) and squire Trelawney (Nick Fletcher) they raise an expedition to the island. Their appointed crew includes the mysterious Long John Silver (Arthur Darvill), a man with history and more than a passing interest in the booty.
Stevenson cannily pitches Jim Hawkins as narrator who is able to address the audience and personalise the story. It’s a rich and evocative production enhanced with a brilliant set designed by Izzie Clachan. An authentic 18th Century coastal inn transforms into a ship accommodating scenes above and below deck. Patsy Ferran maintains an impish presence as Jim Hawkins, and provides an ideal foil for Arthur Darvill who revels in the role of Long John Silver. The only mystery is the parrot muttering on Silver’s shoulder – is it brilliant animatronics or an extremely well behaved tropical bird – go figure?
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Adapted by: Bryony Lavery
Director: Polly Findlay
Designer: Izzie Clachan
Music and Songs: Dan Jones and John Tams
Producer: National Theatre
Availability: Streaming until 23 April