‘Treasure Island’ is traditional British pantomime by the young Bristol playwright, Ben Crocker. It is being staged at The Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street in Guildford. A good easy to follow script and dialogue for the kids.
This 2-hour show can be seen at 7.30 each Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from the 19th November until the 11th December, with matinées on Saturday and Sunday at 1.30 pm. Even the young children will not get bored as the action unfolds. They may be slightly confused by the pantomime’s tradition of mixing the sexes, with a man as the dame and a girl as the leading man.
The Scene: The fishing village of Smugglers’ Cove in Cornwall, around 1770.
The Set: Designed and built by James Nailen and anyone else he could corner. The painting was carried out by Matthew Roberts, Devlin Turbin, Harry Compton and Sami Compton. Specialist artwork by AJ Giltrow.
The set’s venues included, Ben Bow Inn, the Women’s Institute, on board the Hispaniola ship, on a desert island – with good back / front projection views and plenty of vegetation.
Properties: Michelle Compton managed to find barrels and treasure chests.
Lighting and soundscape were designed and operated by Matthew Roberts and Ellien van Heerwaarden. Plenty of good effects and spot on cuing.
Stage manager: Roxi Moore was assisted by Harry Compton and the stagehand was AJ ‘Adam’ Giltrow. A large cast can be a headache to handle, but this cast entered and disappeared flawlessly. The scene changes fast and silent.
Smart programme from Docuprint
Poverty stricken Mrs ‘Mum’ Hawkins (Gavin Crane) wanders into the Admiral Benbow Inn, an unruly pub where the ale is being drunk by the gallon. She is trying to avoid her landlord, Squire Trelawney (Ken Harris) who is looking for this week’s rent. Mum’s husband is drunk and dying upstairs and Kittie the bar maid (12-yrs. old Mia Fellows) advises her that her husband has passed away. Where can she find some money?
In the background is an old sailor, the dreaded Billy Bones (Devlin Turbin – great dying scene. Devlin also played the castaway, Bruce Gunn). When Billy dies a treasure map is found in his pocket.
The thigh-slapping son, Jim Hawkins (Olivia Fellows) arrives, and he tries to console his mother. In the corner listening to the discussion about the treasure map are kidnapping pirates, Seadog Dilly (Bailey O’Hehir) and his side kick Seaweed Willy (Niamh O’Hehir). Perhaps Mother Hawkins could only win Mrs Battersby (Georgia Wilson) baking competition at the Women’s Institute. Into the inn walks the squire’s beautiful daughter, Jenny (Katelyn Barr).
Long John Silver (Rob McConnell – threatening, but with a great singing voice) is tipped off by the young pirates. So, with his leading crewmen, Gizzard Slitter (Graham Miles), Blood boiler (Russell Fellows), The Fridge (Kyren Cleave) they try to find who has the secret map. Long John’s decrepit parrot, Polly MacCaw (Fiona Forster – delightful) is asked to help by doing an aerial check.
Mrs Davina Henderson (energy-packed Melanie Coopes) does not like the attitude of the pirates and with her friends Mrs Daphne Carter-Brown (Caitlyn Moloney), Mrs Sheila Parker (Sami Compton) and Miss Doris Normington (Michelle Hedge) they lead a revolution that has even Captain Bloodheart (Peter Sullivan) and the aggressive pirate (Kody Fellows) quaking.
Who will reach the treasure first? Could there be a wedding in the offing?
The trio of musicians, positioned in front of the stage, gave superb value producing the effect and depth of a much larger musical group. On keyboards was Leanne Van Heerwaaden, strings and vocalist was Kieran Ridgway and the musical director on woodwind, vocals and sound effects, Christopher Steicke. The volume complemented the singing, with the singers easily heard and understood. The trio added numerous quirky sound effects for the chaotic scenes.
Director, Douglas Sutherland-Bruce was in his element; as an aficionado of UK pantomimes he always gives the audience the full array of elements – ‘Oh no he doesn’t!’ – ‘Oh yes he does!’ Douglas’s assistant director was Kerry Goode, who was assisted by Matthew Roberts; they too are both renowned for putting a true British touch to the whole show. See if you can spot any UK references, for example, the expression ‘Going to see a man about a dog’. I am to shy and innocent to tell you what that means. Then there is the obligatory kitchen cookery scene, a script written on two levels – one for the adults with double-entendres and the other for the kids. The big cuddly, overweight Dame (Gavin is one of the best Dames I have seen in Perth), along with the catchy singalong songs that even the kids will know, gives a warmth to the whole production.
The pub drinkers are referred to as The Fellowship – not surprising as there are four members of the Fellows family on stage at once.
Thanks to the hard work of Sally Forbes and Colleen Bradford there are lots of colourful, and in the case of the Dame outrageous and tasteless, costumes. Ellien van Heerwaarden, Mel Coopes and Sophie David’s makeup, especially for the parrot and the Dame was particularly good
Fiona Foster was joined for the final tongue twisting song by Bailey and his sister Niamh. They were magnificent, with all the energetic movements and yet they never missed a beat.
The choreographer and chorus mistress was Sophie David, assisted by Natalia Smith. With a small stage the heel and toe dancing and intricate hand movements gave plenty of inventive movement and a vivacious air. Very well rehearsed. Great work with the whole cast smiling and working in unison.
This is a first-class UK style pantomime. The whole show had life, colour, excitement and boundless energy.
Be warned – the programme has a photo of Trelawney’s infamous spotted dick.