Tuesday, 23 December 2014

REVIEW - Treasure Island, National Theatre

FOUR stars

TO say that the National Theatre's production of Treasure Island is epic would be to seriously understate things.
Appropriately enough, given the scale of the production, it is presented on the National's vast, impressive and at times revolving Olivier stage.
Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Stevenson’s classic adventure story is genius. She has taken it and given it a bit of a twist to give it more female role models - including transforming the central character of Jim to a girl - Jemima - brilliantly played by Patsy Ferran.
There is also a very funny Dr Livesey (Helena Lymbery) who takes charge of the treasure map situation as the fatuous and pompous Squire Trelawney (Nick Fletcher) can't be trusted to keep his mouth shut.
But Lavery has also dabbled with the characterisation in other ways and so rather than an old sea dog from the book, Long John Silver is played as a much younger, long haired man (Arthur Darvil).
Complete with a brilliant parrot on his shoulder - who at times looks so much like the real thing it's uncanny - he is still full of menace and nastiness.
The rest of the cast is great too especially Gillian Hanna as Jim's feisty grandmother. Joshua James too as Ben Gunn who, having developed a habit diving into the morass of what look like giant pustules, and of talking to himself, has more than a touch of Poor Tom in King Lear about him.
But it is perhaps Lizzie Clachan’s simply stunning set design that is the star of this show - and surely worth the price of the ticket alone.
There are enormous bowed timber beams encircling the stage which look like giant ribs but could easily symbolise the bowels of a wrecked ship as well as the gigantic waves of the storm which engulf the ship.
The wooden stage reveals itself first as a small inn but then spectacularly turns and rises to reveal a two-deck ship complete with rigging, sails and ship's wheel.
It is framed by a backdrop of dazzling stars which even encroach onto the ceiling above the audience and provide a chance for a lesson in the names of constellations, how to find the North Star and to work out what latitude you are so you can find your way home.
It is a great spectacle of a show with some hilarious rag tag bunch of pirates and a stand out performance by Tim Samuels as Grey. The only slight niggle is that there could have been a bit more dangerous sword fighting, a bit more blood and gore and a bit more menace to Silver.
Despite that it's a fabulous show and will appeal to anyone with an adventurous streak in them - boys or girls.

Treasure Island is on at the National Theatre until Wednesday, April 8. Tickets from £15. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org or call the box office on 020 7452 3000. This production is also being broadcast live in cinemas, as part of National Theatre Live, on January 22.

No comments:

Post a Comment