A Christmas Treasure Island - Theatre ☆☆☆☆4

Showing from - Friday, December 2, 2016 through till Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hull Truck Theatre - Kingston-upon-Hull

Jackie Foottit | Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Christmas Treasure Island reviewed by Jackie Foottit on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 for Downstage CentreChristmas on the high seas: Joe Beckett, Annabel Betts, Jack Lord and Nicolas Goode in the Hull Truck Theatre production of 'A Christmas Treasure Island' (Photos by Andrew Billington)

AS we motley crew of landlubbers made our way to our seats in the atmospheric setting of Hull Truck Theatre, there was no doubt in our minds we were off on an adventure where main sails would be hoisted, hearties would be avasted and timbers would be shivered.


The stage looked fantastic – the floor was a huge treasure map on which stood an equally fantastic wooden pirate ship (or part thereof, this is a smallish theatre after all).


Debbie Oates adapted the Robert Louis Stephenson classic, Treasure Island, in such a clever and amusing way, there was no way she would be made to walk the plank for her cheek and daring.There were out-of-tune carol singers, a giant yeti and fights galoreAnnabel Betts was superbly loud and energetic as disgruntled Jem Hawkins, a sulky young girl feeling ignored by her mum and dad (the talented Jessicca Murrain and Nicholas Goode), who had their hands full with a sick new baby; and at odds with her irritant of a brother, John (a very entertaining Laurie Jamieson).


After yet another row with her dad, Jem finds an old edition of Treasure Island belonging to her Uncle Dave (the versatile Jack Lord) and sits down to read it, alongside Suki, the family’s cat.


For me, Suki was a highlight of the show.  Puppet maker John Barber has done a wonderful job of bringing Suki to life. I marveled at how lifelike the cat’s movements were and the fact the puppeteer was in full sight didn’t detract one bit from my enjoyment.


Huge Parrot

But I digress. Upon Uncle Dave’s arrival, he explains to Jem the book was given to him by a pirate called Billy Bones and that it was a very special book. So special, a huge parrot (courtesy of John Barber) flies down and makes off with it in his beak, leaving behind a treasure map.


undefinedThen it’s swashbuckling action all the way as Jem and Uncle Dave, in their quest to head north to find treasure, are joined by thigh-slapping, heel-touching, all-singing, all-dancing pirates; Long John Silver (the aforementioned Laurie Jamieson) and his parrot; Captain Molly Hands (Louise Shuttleworth) and a wandering coracle boat under which lurked a shipwrecked Ben Gunn (Louise Shuttleworth again) who only spoke in rhyme.


There were out-of-tune carol singers, a giant yeti, fights galore, a pirate run through with a sword, laughter, and moments of poignancy – most notably when Jem and Uncle Dave became marooned on an island and he lulled her to sleep by the light of a camp fire. Ah!



Audience participation came in three-quarters of the way through, but it wasn’t forced upon us.

The ditties, composed by John Biddle, and sung so heartily, made us all laugh out loud. The whole thing had a slapstick Alice In Wonderland feel to it.


And with snow falling on the talented cast as they sang their farewell, it completed a magical night.


Production Information

Theatre: Hull Truck Theatre

Showing Until: Saturday, January 7, 2017

Production Company: Hull Truck Theatre

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