One of the most popular children’s stories ever adapts surprisingly well to the stage, and this large cast has a rollicking good time telling it.
Most of the major points of the plot are kept in this almost Gilbertian adaptation, which offers director Megan Dansie opportunities to extract a lot of humour, sometimes even teetering on the edge of farce. Nevertheless, the tensions of villainy and subterfuge, mutiny, trust and disloyalty, also spice up the busy and familiar story line, peppered with nicely choreographed sword fights and intrigue.
Among the enthusiastic performers, Thorin Cupit is a fearsome Black Dog; the diminutive Ben Todd does a wonderful engagingly silly dance as Squire Trelawney finding the Treasure Map; Stuart Pearce is a constant, if somewhat nicer than expected Long John Silver. Maxwell Whigham shines as the creepy Ben Gunn, although in his enthusiasm he – and several others in the cast – muffled the clarity of words so that some of the treasures of dialogue were lost. Outstanding in the cast is Sophie Livingstone-Pearce as Jim Hawkins with some delightful interventions as the story teller, and moments of being a nicely heroic heroine.
The simple set by Bob Peet works well both as the Admiral Benbow Inn, and as it is re-set as the deck of the good ship “Hispaniola” (accompanied by a charming trio singing shanties with ukulele, among the original music by Phil Short,) and later as the island itself.
All in all this is a surprising choice for the Adelaide Rep, but one well worth a try.
Adelaide Repertory Theatre presents
by Robert Louis Stevenson | adapted by Bryony Lavery
Director Megan Dansie
Venue: The Arts Theatre, Adelaide SA
Dates: 16 –18 and 22 –25 November 2023