Theatre Review: Treasure Island at The Old Rep, Birmingham

By Dave Massey @BrumHour

Theatre Review: Treasure Island at The Old Rep

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to the press night for Treasure Island at The Old Rep. Produced and Directed by Scott Richie with Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA), this unlikely family Christmas treat is on until 3rd January 2016.

Adam Bailey as Beaky Rascal, Jerome Marcel as Dick, Gianni Cantone as Jim, Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse, Leon Finnan as Billy & Ian Crowe as Long John Silver
Left to Right, Adam Bailey as Beaky Rascal, Jerome Marcel as Dick, Gianni Cantone as Jim, Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse, Leon Finnan as Billy & Ian Crowe as Long John Silver (All photos by John James.)

I don’t remember much about the novel Treasure Island, apart from Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver. I came with the daft expectation that this might be a slightly serious adaptation. How wrong I was.

The early action takes place, in what I can only presume is an inland port not far from Birmingham, as there are several comments about Birmingham in the dialogue.

Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse, Barry Shannon as Doctor Livesey, Dominic Rye as Captain Trelawney & Gianni Cantone as Jim (2)
Left to Right: Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse, Barry Shannon as Doctor Livesey, Dominic Rye as Captain Trelawney & Gianni Cantone as Jim

Before we set sail – Maybe the Midlands had been flooded – we are quickly introduced to Jim Hawkins (Gianni Cantone), tomboy Jesse (Charlotte Swarbrick), newly made captain Squire Trelawney (Dominic Rye) and Doctor Livesey (Barry Shannon). This is a fun, easy-going crew, helped by the actors being playful and jovial in their roles!

Adam Bailey as Beaky Rascal and Ian Crowe as Long John Silver (2)
Left to Right, Adam Bailey as Beaky Rascal, Jerome Marcel as Dick, Gianni Cantone as Jim, Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse, Leon Finnan as Billy & Ian Crowe as Long John Silver

Threat comes in the entertaining forms of Long John Silver (Ian Crowe) with his bumbling henchmen Billy (Leon Finnan), Dick (Jerome Marcel) and Silver’s Hip Hop singing parrot Beaky Rascal (Adam Bailey).

Ella Vize as Mermaid Princess (4)
Ella Vize as Mermaid Princess

Keeping a watchful eye over Jim Hawkins and Jesse is a mermaid Princess (Ella Vize), with powerful vocals that remind me of sea sirens from literature before they meet the comical Ben Gunn (David Heywood), who has been driven crazy on his own on the Island.

David Heywood as Ben Gunn (2)
David Heywood as Ben Gunn

This isn’t a panto, it’s a play with music, but there is much for the audience to do so be prepared to join in from the comfort of your seat.

The great looking multi-level set is utilised to its maximum, doubling as the ship, a tavern, and the Island itself.

The Old Rep is a small, beautiful theatre with future aims for youth-led productions, comedy, and family friendly events. Its less than two minutes from the new Birmingham New Street Station and Grand Central Birmingham.

If you are looking for somewhere to take youngsters (six and upwards I’d say) for a treat, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

Gianni Cantone as Jim and Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse (7)
Left: Gianni Cantone as Jim and Charlotte Swarbrick as Jesse

Treasure Island runs at the Old Rep until 3rd January 2016. Book tickets here: oldreptheatre.org.uk


 

I saw Treasure Island at the Old Rep for free with thanks to Emma Cann at the Old Rep and Rewired PR. This post is my honest opinion of the production.

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