CHARLES ESSEX REVIEWS THE PRODUCTION WHICH RUNS UNTIL 1ST SEPTEMBER
Are the school holidays dragging? Are the children getting bored and under your feet? Tread the Boards at the Attic Theatre has come to the rescue. This small crew mans the lifeboat with first-rate entertainment as dastardly Long John Silver plots to find the buried treasure.
Pantomime in the summer sounds contrary but Treasure Island is a delight and offers much appeal for all ages. Clever visual and verbal humour keep the plot moving along apace.
It starts in Jim Hawkins’s rundown family tavern, and the plot thickens as buccaneers with scores to settle come and go. Pete Meredith had the right degree of bewilderment and naivety for Jim Hawkins, the young narrator who is drawn deeper into a potential betrayal and mutiny.
Tread the Boards play to their strengths, using minimal props and the cast playing several roles in a way that comes over as creative rather than cost-cutting under John-Robert Partridge’s clever directing. Robert Moore did a marvellous triple: playing drunkard Billy Bones, dim Squire Trelawney, and acting as parrot puppeteer – the parrot brilliantly squawking bad Christmas cracker puns.
In search of doubloons a dubious crew set off for Treasure Island. John-Robert was in great form as Long John Silver (with one leg) and Blind Pew (with two legs) and there were some excellent comic moments from all the cast. Phil Leach had an upright military bearing as Captain Smollet and contrasted this well as Ben Gunn when they reached the desert island, deranged from being long-time shipwrecked with a cheese obsession – a clever running gag.
Marc Alden Taylor’s fight choreography was impressive – in the close quarters of the Attic Theatre the battle and fight scenes are always exciting. The backdrop across the whole of the back wall was, rather cleverly, a large scale map of the island so that as the characters referred to features on the island the audience could get a real sense of their locations.
Occasional sprays from water pistols to simulate the surf and cannonballs landing in the water (raincoats and umbrellas were not required) added to the fun. Rebecca Pratt and Matilda Bott were fine Sea Dogs. T
his reviewer highly recommends this family entertainment. Once again Tread the Boards has taken a popular story and brought it alive with shrewd direction and superb acting by all concerned.