Review by Markus Hamence – Friday 24 November 2023 performance.
The Adelaide Repertory Theatre (The Rep) wrap up their 2023 season with a classic piece. Robert Louis Stephenson wrote Treasure Island as a novel way back in 1881 and, with a few timely tweaks, The Rep bring to life the story in the grand old dame, The Arts Theatre, in Angus Street in Adelaide.
While originally the book was predominantly written for children, this stage adaption is more-so directed towards adults (though still being 100% child friendly) and is two and a half hours of great and traditional theatre.
Adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Megan Dansie, it is a rollicking, rum-swilling, grog guzzling romp of treachery, heroism and treasure hunting.
The Rep have brought out their big guns from the stable of talent. And the troupe appear to relish in their respective roles… In the first twist to the original we see the typically ‘boy part’ of Jim Hawkins character played by Sophie Livingston-Pearce as a tom-boy this time ’round. Sophie ducks and weaves and hits all her marks as the central character to the story. Her chops are already finely tuned (and indeed shall only get better), her stage credits range from ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ through to ‘Grease’ and her confidence on stage is a pleasure to experience especially alongside some more mature thespians.
The cast is expansive, there is 21 in all (some playing a couple of parts), but some stand-outs specifically for me were: Bronwyn Ruciak playing Doctor Livesey, the steely determination of the character was executed with consistency; Squire Trelawney was a riot played by Ben Todd; Heather Crawford’s Red Ruth who’s favourite colour is ‘red’ was bottled hilarity; Captain Smolett by Lindsay Dunn was sensational with a great and strong voice for the role and Stuart Pearce as Long John Silver was faultless as he maneuvered his way back and forth across the stage with his one ‘good’ leg and the other ‘wooden’ leg. I could go on with cute and noteworthy snippets on each performer, as the entire role-call of actors were tremendous, but enough to say; Jenny Allan, Rebecca Kemp, Brad Martin, Frederick Pincombe, Jacqui Maynard, Damien White, Thorin Cupit (with hair for the part), Lindsay Dunn, Rose Vallen, Thomas Midena, Leah Lowe, Mike Leach (also with hair for the part) AND Ryan Ricci all were GOLD (Treasure pun inserted). Bravo to all.
Special shout-outs: It was exceptionally wonderful to see Brian Godfrey back on-stage after a recent health scare which took him out of action for a wee-bit, this gentleman is made for stage and belongs there proudly, welcome back sir. Also, Matthew Chapman as the cheeky Parrot was brilliant and a joy to have on stage to add an extra accent of humour and Maxwell Whigham as the island inhabitant, Ben Gunn, was exceptional with dreads flowing and swaying back and forth, not unlike his audible dialogue he has with himself. Fun.
Set design was effective and transitioned from tavern, to boat, to island effortlessly and with believability. Costume design was well worn too (see what I did there!), well fitted and matched the characters to a ‘t’, Arrrrrrrr!
Audio/Visual sat exactly in the pocket too. It’s not just about the right systems in place but someone operating it all who knows what they are doing. Tick. Achieved.
To sum up, a wonderful age old story, really good beefy character roles, plenty of laughs that hit their marks &break-out pirate songs. A great night at the theatre by a talented troupe.
Were there things that could have been tidied up? Sure, there’s always something, but they did not diminish from what the night was all about… as intro paragraph mentioned… a rollicking, rum-swilling, grog guzzling romp of treachery, heroism and treasure hunting. Already looking forward to The Rep’s 2024 season with great anticipation (Have you seen, they’re doing ‘Mother & Son’?!?)