For a show aimed at kids aged eight and up, there’s some outrageous innuendo in this adaptation of ‘Treasure Island’ by Iris Theatre. The filth revolves around Dick, a minor character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book made major here. I mean, ‘Dick, all you’re good for is tapping, tossing and docking’? Really?
Apart from that, this vaguely promenade production is a jolly enough evening. We start in St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden with actors running down the aisles and the echoing acoustic snatching away most of the lines. Jim Hawkins finds the treasure map and off he goes.
The audience is split into two groups, pirates and privateers. After about an hour, the two groups are led to separate areas and different scenes are played out simultaneously in the church’s pretty rose garden, which has been fitted with a pirate ship for the occasion. We don’t get to see what the other group is seeing – we just have to hope it’s not as good as our side of the story.
Considering the length of some scenes in which less than nothing happens – a woman sings a song on a ukulele in Spanish, the crew move about, one of them eats an orange – the show could easily be a 90 minute jobby. Instead we’re led from spot to spot with all the tedious shuffling that entails.
It’s a bit village hall panto, but it provokes the same kind of goodwill that that deserves. Dafydd Gwynn Howells is entertaining as a slightly camp, Welsh Long John Silver while Dominic Garfield as boatswain Dick goes pleasingly off piste in his mildly threatening interactions with the audience.
Oh, yeah there’s audience participation. On top of a bit of general repartee, a lucky few are dressed up in pirate garb and asked to belay painters or hoist the aft mizzen or whatever it is sailors do.
It’s fun though. Silly and summery, aimed at kids with a piratic streak in them, and it’s found a great location in St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. It needs tightening and strengthening, however, before it can be the summer romp it wants to be.