REVIEW: Treasure Island (St Paul’s Church) ★★★★

Treasure Island 7 Photo Hannah Barton

“You’re a pirate. Here’s your armband.” Err, no I think you’ll find it’s a bandana. With my aaaarmband (sorry) firmly tied around my head, as befitting a fierce pirate I was ready for action.

Iris Theatre is always a treat for the senses and Treasure Island brought its audience something slightly different – an immersive adventure on the high seas. Following either pirates (hurrah), or privateers (boo), each audience member had an entirely different experience, especially for those that got to dress up and join in (not me unfortunately).

Daniel Winder has taken a few liberties with Robert Louis Stevenson’s original story, but so did the muppets and they didn’t do it any harm. Young lad Jim Hawkins (Harold Addo) witnesses the demise of ex-pirate Billy Bones (Adrian Quinton) and steals his treasure map, persuading Squire Trelawney (an unusually serious Nick Howard-Brown) to commandeer a ship to Skull Island in a search for buried gold.

That’s when the adventure really starts, with a sea voyage full of extremely realistic wind and rain (all hail the British Summer), raucous Spanish sea shanties sung by Isabella Hands (Anne-Marie Piazza) and dirty double crossing from Barbecue (aka Long John Silver aka Dafydd Gwynn Howells). It’s fast-paced and fun, with so many euphemisms that my weapon grew stiff with cold and shot its load… Ahem.

Us lucky pirates witnessed a mutiny, a victory and through our cunning villainy, found the treasure. Unfortunately, good triumphed over evil and all that jazz and nobody actually got any treasure, but I’m sure we had far more fun than the privateers.

However, the real gem is the production and its cast. Dominic Garfield was utterly fantastic as Black Dog, with the perfect mix of adventurer and coward (and a bloody good dancer too), while Dafydd was excellent as Barbecue, particularly his intonation and audience interaction. Harold makes an admirable debut, but lacks the confidence and enthusiasm of his fellow cast members. Regular Iris actors Anne-Marie and Nick never fail to amuse and delight with their buoyant charm and easy humour, plus their ability to play multiple characters with such contrasting characteristics.

The set is incredible and I take my (pirate’s) hat off to Valentina Turtur for her imagination and vision that really brings this magical production to life. With fantastic acting, catchy melodies and stunning scenery, this is the perfect family production.

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Photo: Hannah Barton

TREASURE ISLAND is playing at St Pauls Church until 28 August 2016