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Treasure Island (Hornchurch, Queen's Theatre)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Alice Blundell & Dylan Kennedy
©Nobby [email protected]
Sometimes a particular title just keeps coming along. This summer it seems to be the turn of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". The Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch, always keen to put a new spin on an old tale, is staging it in a fine new adaptation by Chris Bond as its mid-year family show.

The format in Bob Carlton and Simon Jessop's production is, very appropriately, that of an 18th century ballad opera with original music and arrangements by Steven Markwick.

It's perhaps more suited to a slightly older age group than that of some of the children at the official first night performance, though Claire Lyth's sets and costumes, not to mention Malcolm Ranson's well-choreographed fight sequences, keep the eye engaged throughout.

Our young hero is Dylan Kennedy as a finely nuanced Jim Hawkins. His piratical nemesis is, of course, Long John Silver, who James Earl Adair makes into something more interesting than a mere downright villain. Sam Kordbacheh doubles Black Dog, a resuscitated Captain Flint and castaway Ben Gunn with Simon Ward-Smith wielding the cutlass of Billy Bones and Israel Hands.

Not that the men have it all their own way. Bond has incorporated two historical women pirates – Mary Reed (Alice Blundell) and Anne Bonnie (Sarah Mahony). All the cast have strong voices and, as usual with the cut to the chase... company ply a variety of instruments.

Sam Pay is a plummy Squire Trelawny, Sean Needham a slightly more no-nonsense Dr Livesey and Captain Smollett is played by Callum Hughes. It's a strong production well served by its script, music, cast and visual elements.