Bristol Old Vic – until 30th July 2022
Reviewed by Lucy Hitchcock
Le Navet Bete and John Nicholson bring their hilariously adapted version of Treasure Island to Bristol, and it does not disappoint!
With only a cast of 4, we follow Jim Hawkins (Nick Bunt) as he sails across the world in search of buried treasure. Along the way, he meets some rather unusual characters, such as Long John Silver (Al Dunn), Captain Birdseye (Simon Burbage) and Blue Peter (Matt Freeman), who all join him on his quest-however some are our for their own gain! Whilst trying to gauge who he can trust and who he needs to outwit, Jim successfully retrieves the treasure and the story is complete!
With a minute cast of only 4, transitioning between 26 characters, this is a seamless show. Each member of the cast is exquisite, bringing their own flair to each character whilst being easily distinguishable-a real help for the younger members of the audience. Nick Bunt as ‘Jim Hawkins’ captures the naivety of a 14 year old boy well, and draws the audience in instantly on his side. Al Dunn as multiple characters but namely ‘Long John Silver’, took on the enviable task of initiating audience participation. With his good vocals, he connected with the audience well, breaking the fourth wall and making us believe each twist and turn of the story. Along with Simon Burbage as ‘Captain Birdseye’ and many others making up ‘Jim’s shipmates, this lead to some hilarious moments-Burbage was great at being the enigmatic friend, who becomes a foe!
The stand out performance was from Matt Freeman, mainly as ‘Ben Gunn’, a stranded man on Treasure Island. His perfectly executed slapstick was a triumph, causing uproars in the auditorium! There were also some moments that seemed unscripted, such as falling over and hilariously forgetting lines, which I think added to the charm of the show. Freeman is an artist and characterises himself well into anything-he was even a Mermaid and gave us a lovely rendition of the well known song ‘Loving You!’
At some points, I found it slightly difficult to hear the speech over the background music, but this was only for a few moments at a time.
This panto-esque performance is perfect for children and adults alike, I defy anyone not to come out of the theatre without a smile! You’d better crack on and grab your tickets-or it’s walking the plank for you!!!