The Attic Theatre, Cox’s Yard, Stratford
THERE’S a real treasure to be discovered at The Attic Theatre.
Tread the Boards are walking the planks with their annual family show – an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling classic Treasure Island.
John-Robert Partridge has done the adaptation, and also directs and stars as both Blind Pew and Long John Silver. So much responsibly balances on his wooden leg. But he can take a bow on all three fronts.
His fast-paced production is unpredictable in the best possible way. Holding the attention of children for two-and-a-half hours – there is an interval – is no mean feat, but the young faces around us were rapt throughout, even if a few of the front rowers were rather frightened when the pirates first appeared, such is the intimacy of The Attic which puts the audience in the thick of the action. I’m pleased to report they soon let go tight grips on reassuring parental arms and broad smiles took over as Silver and his motley crew set sail in search of Captain Flint’s treasure.
A mere seven actors play all parts, but it feels like a whole lot more, which is credit to the magnificent seven, who all deserve a mention. So here goes – Pete Meredith is the prim and proper Famous Five-like Jim Hawkins, Matilda Bott is both Liverpudlian Mrs Hawkins and singing cutthroat Israel Hands, Rebecca Pratt plays upstanding Dr Livesey and mean mutineer Dick O’Brien, Josh Radcliffe’s Job Anderson has the air of a camp Jack Whitehall, Phil Leach is a Basil Fawlty-esque Captain Smollet and cheese-punning Ben Gunn, and Robert Moore raises many a laugh as the never say die Billy Bones, until that he is he does finally croak, and the all at sea Squire Trelawney, and not forgetting the already mentioned captain of this production Mr Partridge.
There’s also a puppet parrot with a terrible line in pirate jokes, some jolly slap stick, and some very clever jokes referencing everything from Titanic to the Bermuda Triangle to Baby Shark.
And come the final curtain the audience are even invited to have a photo on stage with the pirates – something the younger members jumped at. You don’t get that opportunity with Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean.
Young and not so young alike left this production with a big smile on their face, and you can’t ask for more than that, but I think it’s going to take a couple of days for “yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” to stop swimming round my head.
Treasure Island is at The Attic until September 2
Visit www.treadtheboardstheatre.co.uk for tickets and further details.