Treasure Island Review

National Theatre Live – 1st broadcast Thursday 22nd January 2015


Bryony Lavery’s inspired re-imagining of Treasure Island is a true wonder to behold. Big and brash, wonderfully acted but the star of this production is undoubtedly the magnificent set. Making full use of the Olivier rotunda we saw the Hispaniola in full glory in the first half and the tunnels of the island in the second. The stars by which the route was plotted filled the ceiling and Lizzie Clachan and Bruno Poet must be congratulated on their vision and their staffs abilities to bring it to fruition.


Jim (Jemima) Hawkins is brought to life by Patsy Ferran and Arthur Darvill brings charm to the villainous Long John SiIver but Joshua James as half mad cheese loving Ben Gunn is outstanding too.


James, who argues with himself as if he were in his own chat show, is one of the original features of the production. Tim Samuels’s doleful Grey – a pirate so colourless that no one ever recognises him – is another. But a difference worth noting is Ferran as Jim: “Be you boy or be you girl?” “That be my business.” And Captain the Flint the parrot remotely controlled is a triumph


Although in the National for the Christmas period this is not a pantomime. Its rough and rugged with body parts, blood splatters and pirates – all of them bad, mad and dangerous to know. Treasure Island is daring, scary, fast paced and has moments of (black) comedy.


Its an exciting romp promoting a children’s story to classic theatre but this not children’s theatre and is well worth a visit to the National Theatre or your local cinema to see an encore performance