Tuesday, May 28

Treasure Island – Altrincham Garrick Playhouse

As an Easter Holiday child friendly show, the Garrick has produced a version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island.  This version adapted by the well-respected Bryony Lavery was first produced in 2014.  The basic plot remains the same, but Lavery has taken liberties with both characters and sections of the story. 

Jim Hawkins is now female, Jim has a grandmother not parents, characters are missing, new characters are inserted, and the fate of several characters is altered.  The problem with doing this is that while the play bears some resemblance to the original it should be referred to as the Alternative Treasure Island.  Jim and her grandmother run the Admiral Benbow Inn in Black Cove.  One night a man arrives with his sea chest and takes a room, but this is the start of the trouble.  Billy Bones is hiding out from his old colleagues on The Walrus but once they find him, he is under pressure to give up their old Captain’s map of where he buried his ill-gotten gains.  Upon finding the map Jim, Squire Trelawny and Dr Livesey decide to hire a ship and go in search of the treasure, however despite hiring an honest Captain, the Squire also hires the old crew of the Walrus as crew on the ship, not realising that they are all pirates.  

Joseph Meighan’s direction is competent, but several decisions have been taken which detract rather than enhance the evening’s entertainment.  Lauren Brown’s Jim Hawkins is well acted but does not have the charisma to hold the attention of the audience.  Michael Gallagher is a loud ebullient Long John Silver ably supported by an ensemble of pirates.  Notable among these are Patti Linnett’s Joan the Goat and Jack So’s Israel Hands.  The problems come when so many of the rest of the characters appear as caricatures of predictable tropes or imitations of well-known actors.  The most notable of the latter being Helen Horridge’s performance of Squire Trelawny feeling like Dawn French doing pantomime and Euan Tanna-Fenton sounding like a young Griff Rhys-Jones in his Not The 9 O’clock News days.  And while these parodies will go over the heads of younger audience members, they are not good enough to be effective for those old enough to remember the originals. 

James Merrington has designed a clever set which evolves from inn, through harbourside and ship and finally to the island, all of which he enhances with good lighting design.  These make a much-needed big difference to the perception of the play.

Overall while not bad, this production has flaws which prevent it from being a truly enjoyable evening, but if looking for something to take the youngsters to over the school holidays then it is still worth a visit.

Playing until 14th April, https://www.altrinchamgarrick.co.uk/

Reviewer: Helen Jones

Reviewed 3rd April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.