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Treasure Island – New Vic Theatre

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The New Vic Theatre is renowned for it’s Christmas productions and will be entertaining thousands of youngsters this Christmas (and many more adults) with a slightly unusual offering of Treasure Island. It won the vote of local children so this year they have their pirate adventure!

Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson book and adapted (and directed) by Theresa Heskins – It’s the tale of our pirate-to-be, Gem, who dreaming of adventure, finds it in the form of a pirate guest who visits the tavern where she works. Sneaking aboard a pirate ship in a barrel she throws herself right in the middle of more adventure than she could have ever expected.

A wide range of characters are discovered along the way, not least Long John Silver  – who seemingly has high aspirations of his own despite disguising himself as the ship’s chef.

The music was composed by James Atherton and does provide a quality underscore to proceedings – changing mood to suit the action on stage. It’s also surprisingly rocky – the full rock band experience is provided at the beginning of act two aswell and sprinkled throughout in what seems to be another example of how the New Vic is pushing it’s own boundaries outside of it’s established comfort zone.

The problem is – the original tale is so complicated that the point of the story has got lost in a whirlwind between all of the action. It’s very difficult to tell what actually happened.

Gem, our lead, is played with energy and clarity by Nisa Cole. But other characters were odd, unrelatable and almost pointless. Their stories are lost and what you’re left with is an explosion of action which doesn’t quite make sense.

Now – the action itself is superb. The round stage is transformed into a pirate ship with wonderful imagination (see above image). Scenes happen up high, aswell as on the stage floor. There’s puppetry (of a parrot) which is beautifully executed and a young cast are used well throughout.

Not just that – but we have lots of female pirates too. An ethical and commendable artistic choice that has stopped this production being “just for boys”.

Children were hooked by the action, sat watching in awe – held by a committed, talented cast. As a spectacle, it’s fine. Unfortunately the story itself is too unclear and too little meaning comes across. It is a little unfulfilling.

The New Vic has produced some wonderful theatre – and has a good reputation, particularly for their Christmas productions. Treasure Island is certainly a lot of fun and it will no doubt go from strength to strength throughout it’s run.

To book tickets visit the New Vic Theatre website.