Jim Hawkins (played by Thea Speake), the dame Mrs Hawkins (Gordon Taylor) and Squire Trelawney (Nick Gastrell) are performing in the pantomime Treasure Island at Red Door Theatre in Nelson from December 1-4.
REVIEW: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure
Island, including a tearaway gang of Women’s Institute members, or an asthmatic parrot
with a broad Scots accent, or a love interest for Jim Hawkins, or, for that matter, water
pistols and lashings of whipped cream.
If Robert Louis had dropped in at the Nelson Musical Theatre on Wednesday night he’d have been in for
a surprise because this, boys and girls, is panto, and Treasure Island will never be the same
* The Little Mermaid is a rollicking night out for all the family
* Can a pantomime be staged in Nelson during Covid? Oh, yes it can
* See the Halloween classics and new specials ‘screaming soon’ on Disney+
Ben Crocker’s hilarious send-up of the ultimate pirate tale is nothing more than sheer
This company of players – all 22 of them – is having fun and boy! does it rub off on
We shouted, cheered, clapped the good guys, boo-ed the baddies and joined
the choruses of some highly un-piratical songs.
Hugh Neill’s naturally boundless energy has soaked into every crumb of this production, like Mrs Hawkins’ finest brandy through a WI sponge cake, and the result is delicious: with
cracking pace, stellar performances and delightful choreography.
Gordon Taylor’s panto dame is a confection of bows and sashes, and earns a huge shout out
for carrying off Keith Marshall’s astonishing head-dressses with flair. Simon Brealey as Long
John Silver – the villain, obviously (boo! hiss!) – slaps down his credentials in a terrific
rendition of Bad to the Bone, while Cheryl Rozga’s feisty leadership of the Women’s
Institute-turned-pirate gang is a study in comic timing.
Crocker’s script never flags and the cast tell the jokes well.
My favourite was delivered deadpan by a handbag-wielding WI blue-rinser to Long John Silver as he writhes in agony, pinned by his own black spot: ‘it’s just a black spot.’
This story has been waiting 130 years for somebody to say that. Don’t wait to hear it yourself. Treasure Island runs until Sunday.
Treasure Island by Ben Crocker
Nelson Repertory Theatre
Director: Hugh Neill
At Nelson Musical Theatre, Founders’ Park
Wednesday 1 – Sunday 5 December
Reviewed by Peter Verstappen