Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of murder, money and mutiny was brought to life in the thrilling stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery for the National Theatre, writes Penny Bristow, who watched an encore screening at South Holland Centre in Spalding.
It’s a dark stormy night. The stars are out. Jim, the innkeeper’s grandaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger. At the old sailor’s feet sits a huge sea chest – full of secrets. Jim invites him in – and her dangerous voyage begins.
Treasure Island has a good moral thread running through its story and although mostly good viewing for all ages, some of the scenes were quite gory and possibly distressing to some children, which emphasised how grown up the story actually is.
Overall, the performance was fantastic, bringing home the traditional message that being honest and true will triumph over any evil, while still having some twists and turns to keep it interesting. It is perfect viewing for those wanting a thrilling adventure.
Patsy Ferran’s Jim is fantastic, mixing both awe inspired enthusiasm and innocence of a child, with the bravery and strong will of a hero. Along the way, Jim learns loyalty, trust and friendship.
Joshua James’ Ben Gunn was amazing and was quickly a favourite with the audience. Although not entirely in his right mind, he proved that he was still witty and clever. However, it is Arthur Darvill’s Long John Silver that rivals Patsy Ferran for the best performance. Even though audiences know not to trust him, you cannot help but love his roguish character, and his true pirate nature, as revealed in the second half.
For me the best part of the whole performance was the set design. The beginning inn scene was already magical, and it’s truly beautiful when the stage transforms into an actual ship. Part of the stage rose into three levels, dissecting the ship and giving the audience a chance to see what happens aboard ship; from the captain’s private rooms to the galley down below. By rotating the stage, it becomes the mysterious underground tunnels Ben Gunn hid in. The attention to detail was astounding.