By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2
WHEN?: Saturday 20 August 2022 (matinee), runs to 4 September 2022 RUNTIME: 135 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
We’re here because this venue describes this as ‘perfect for fans of the Greenwich Theatre pantomime’ and while there are lots of similarities that lightning hasn’t quite been captured in this (rum) bottle here – although it’s an apt description.
- Read on for reasons including how this reminds of the Christmas joy that is the annual Greenwich Theatre pantomime
Predominantly aimed at children, this take on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic adventure story boasts a versatile young cast, surefooted direction from venue artistic director James Haddrell and a playful script from Le Navet Bete and John Nicholson.
The 4-strong cast – David Haller, Elliott Bornemann, Lauren Drennan and Helen Ramsay – have a lot of fun bringing 30 or more characters to life as we meet Haller’s teenage cabin boy Jim Hawkins behind the bar in the Admiral Benbow Inn in what we thought we heard as ‘above Blackheath cove’.
There are memorable songs too and Haller impressed behind the keyboards while being joined by Bornemann and Ramsay on percussion as we head for the titular island.
Closest in spirit to Greenwich pantomime’s mastermind Andrew Pollard, currently starring at Alexandra Palace Theatre until the end of August in a piece he has co-written called Tom, Dick and Harry, is Bornemann who drags up memorably frequently through the show not least as a mermaid falling for Haller’s Jim Hawkins.
There’s crossdressing galore with Drennan’s Long John Silver suitably terrifying and Ramsay’s baffling Captain Bird’s Eye as mysterious as he needed to be.
Indeed the funniest lines go to Long John Silver’s parrot Alexa whose grasp on what she is hearing (‘searching for pages on todgers’ ‘No!’) may have rung bells.
Press night is on Tuesday (23 August) which we can’t make and so this is a tad unfair to review the 2nd preview but we trust things will be more naturally funny as the cast relax a little more into their roles.
We feared for a moment that Bornemann was about to pick us to be invited onstage as stooge ‘Mucky Mike’ but luckily that honour fell to a fellow audience member nearby.
There is audience interaction and Bornemann performed the unenviable task of finding willing members to allow themselves to be poked fun of in what can be a challenging task.
We caught a matinee and, for us, the cheeky humour Pollard captures so brilliantly was there in the script that boasted a ship called the Jolly Todger and a character called Blue Peter but it was rather skirted over by the cast rather than innocently milked as Pollard consistently does.
Which is not to say that – much like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London Palladium which now boasts a regular summer show for all the family as well as a festive pantomime – that there is not gold to be found buried not too deep under the surface here.
There’s lots to do for the cast and we thought Bornemann’s star shone brightest with lots of competition and we’d love to see him onstage again at this venue or elsewhere in London in a show which could challenge him further.
This Treasure Island only has a short run so do take the voyage if you can because there is lots of fun to be had along the way and we wouldn’t be shipwrecked anywhere else.