Hilarious send-up of Treasure Island a ‘sheer delight’

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.

Jonathan Alexander/Supplied

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

again.

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Ben Crocker’s hilarious send-up of the ultimate pirate tale is nothing more than sheer

delight.

This company of players – all 22 of them – is having fun and boy! does it rub off on

the audience.

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

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