Yo ho, ho, ho - Treasure Island at Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre is a festive treat

This is Treasure Island – Jim – but not as we know it. There is the Hispaniola, a thirst for rum and riches – but this version has rapping pirates, a seagull called Kenny and a mechanical crab.

By Sue Wilkinson
Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 10:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 10:41 am
The festive treat is on at the Stephen Joseph Theatre
The festive treat is on at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

In fact the reworking of Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic children’s adventure in which ship’s boy Jim Hawkins goes in search of doubloons has all the hallmarks of a Nick Lane adaptation.

That is in the tradition of previous years’ A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland – it’s silly, crackers, barmy and bonkers wrapped in warmth, good cheer and tinsel topped off with a sparkly star.

We have Long John Silver with a carrot instead of a parrot on his shoulder – the vegetable says “five a day” instead of “pieces of eight”, a Ben Gunn obsessed with cheese and a Squire Trelawney who is a woman wearing a false moustache.

Local references – including the Newcastle Packet, Boyes and Danny Wilde – are affectionately woven into the script.

The essence of Stephenson’s story is there as are all the main characters including Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney, Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins, Dr Livesey, Mrs Hawkins, Billy Bones, Blind Pew and Ben Gunn.

These characters and more are brought to life by a multi-talented cast of five – Alice Blundell, Niall Ransome, Ben Tolley, Marcquelle Ward and Scarlet Wilderink.

They sing, dance, play musical instruments, sword fight and act their way through the tale of adventure.

Ward is the only one who plays a single character – Jim Hawkins and he is the lynch-pin of the production. When chaos ensues around him, he is a solid, likeable cheeky anchor in choppy seas.

The bespoke score is by Simon Slater and has nods to sea shanties played on guitar and accordion.

There is also a fantastic rap battle between the pirates and Ben Gunn has a song all about his favourite thing – cheese. It is indeed cheesy and great fun.

On director duty this year is Erin Carter. She manages the action with lightness of touch and a sense of humour.

The choreography, also down to Carter assisted by Stephanie Dattani, is deft with nods to the likes of the Hornpipe.

The set – designed by Helen Coyston and which does not look much with a few ropes and a ragged sails – transforms delightfully into the Hispaniola. It is one of the most beautifully choreographed set pieces of the performance.

Lane’s beautifully nuanced script sticks so closely to the book you can smell the salty sea – there are nods to all the books characters and catchphrases – including Jim Lad and Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

But it also strays so far from the book no road map could steer a course through the merry madness.

The audience play their part in the panto-esque performance with plenty of “Oh no, he isn’ts”.

Treasure Island is a Christmas treat full of adventure, laughs and Christmas sparkle.

It can be seen at the Stephen Joseph Theatre: Wednesday December 11 Thursday December at 10am; Friday December 13 at 11am and 7pm; Saturday December 14 at 1pm; Saturday December 15 at 6pm; Wednesday December 18 at 7pm; Thursday December 19 at 10am and 7; Saturday December 21 at 1pm and 6pm;

Sunday December 22 at 1pm; Monday December 23 at 1pm; Christmas Eve at, 1pm

Boxing Day at 7pm; Friday December 27 at 1pm and 7p; Saturday December 28 at 1pm and 6pm; Sunday December 29 at 1pm.

Tickets: www.sjt.uk.com or 01723 370541