July 5, 2008

Treasure Island: Bristol Hippodrome

In an era when young people are bombarded with fantasy and sci- fi stories it was good to come across a traditional adaptation of one of the great adventure tales.

There are no super beings or fantastic villains flying in and out of the action, these are real people caught up in a rip-roaring yarn of pirates and buried treasure.

Adaptor Stuart Paterson has stuck closely to Robert Louis Stevenson's original novel, resisting the temptation to introduce silly slapstick humour looking for a cheap laugh even when the story became scary.

Director Greg Banks skilfully used Jackie Trousdale's multi- purpose set, keeping the 10-strong cast continually on the go, moving from one location to another without a pause.

For all Gavin Robertson's good work, I confess to wanting to see a few more traces of Robert Newton's legendary over-ripe portrayal of Long John Silver, which him a more loveable rogue.

It's difficult for anyone but a young boy to show the wide-eyed amazement and youthful exuberance of Jim Hawkins, and it says much for John Cockerill's abilities that he was so convincing in the role.

A whole string of well-drawn figures familiar to anyone who has read the book emerged, Brendan Foster's villainous Israel Hands, Anthony Houghton's reliable Dr Livesey and Christopher Llewellyn's cheese-loving Ben Gunn among them.

Aided considerably by Matthew Scott's incidental music, this was a welcome trip back for young and old to childhood adventures.

Gerry Parker


(c) 2008 Western Daily Press (Bristol UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.