REVIEW: NT Live@home- Treasure Island

Brian Butler April 20, 2020

Take a classic novel with which many a schoolboy like me grew up – throw in more than a dash of pantomime and an echo or two of Shakespeare and gender bend the narrator and you have a fine barrel of laughs . Treasure Island streaming live from the National Theatre

Patsy Ferran as the androgynous Jim Hawkins – well actually as it turns out Jemima  – is our impish, clever , witty narrator of this tale of swashbuckled-buckling villains, daft heroes and heroines, gunpowder, treason and plots galore.

Arthur Darvill as the one-legged pirate Long John Silver  here dispenses with his traditional crutch and hop and instead cheats with a proper fitted wooden leg. And he’s not initially the dastardly villain of say Robert Newton’s classic film portrayal. He’s more a wheeler-dealer Estuary chav boy with mocking humour and a kind of Del Boy attractive nature.

He gets meaner in part two but it’s Still a light touch villainy and the other rogues are by and large comic figures of stupidity. But so too are the good guys and girls and the only character that we really warm to, apart from Jim is the barking mad Ben Gunn, played with more than a passing  nod to Poor Tom in King Lear by Joshua James.

The other two stars of the show are the wonderful set by Lizzie Clachan which on its huge revolve ascends to the top most sails and the stars above, and descends to the treacherous tunnels of the island.

And the second star? – the animatronic parrot Capt Flint which defies gravity and explanation as to its working but is a delightful left-hand shoulder companion to Darvill’s Silver.

Polly Findlay’s direction – all action and no respite , and Bryon Lavery’s joke-a-minute script add to the evening’s entertainment but it is Patsy Ferran who focuses the action  and is so endearing we just want to cuddle her.

You can catch Treasure Island on the NT’s YouTube page until Thursday 23 April. Don’t forget to donate if you enjoy it at Nationaltheatre website to keep performers and theatres in funds during the lockdown.