The classic adventure story Treasure Island is transported to Morecambe Bay in The Dukes’ Christmas show this year; and what an effective idea it turns out to be.
Debbie Oates has adapted the book and turned it into a humorous show for all the family, with music, singing, puppets, dancing and of course the occasional joke about bodily functions. The show bobs along in a sprightly manner with some simple but fun special effects, including a coracle which swings from side to side in the small theatre while a remote controlled inflatable shark patrols the perimeter.
Some of the simplest scenes are the most effective, particularly when the pirates go into slow motion mode and others when they just indulge in silly, slapdash antics. This is one of those shows that will appeal to kids and adults as it has something for everyone.
The story follows young Jem who feels alienated by her parents when they have another child and sets off to find treasure with her Uncle David. En route she meets a host of characters, including feisty Captain Molly Hands who puts fear into many of her male comrades. It’s an energetic show with all the actors, apart from Jem played by Nisa Cole and Jim Kitson as Uncle David, doubling up their roles.
Not only that, but they sing, dance and all play musical instruments – although some are more talented than others in that regard. Ann Marcuson is great fun as Capt Hands and her role as the shipwrecked Ben Gunn who would do anything for cheese went down a storm.
As the show is set in Lancashire the cheese in this case was local favourite Mrs Kirkham’s. The other actors, Gareth Cassidy, Charlotte McKinney and Ali Watt seem to genuinely enjoy themselves – something that’s always great to see in a Christmas show. Treasure Island is one of the best Festive productions I’ve seen at The Dukes in recent years – fun and creative with something to amuse everyone in the family.