Rebecca Biden Reviews Treasure Island presented by The Chipstead Players
I had the pleasure of seeing Treasure Island preformed at Courtyard Theatre by the Chipstead Players Youth Theatre. The play was directed by Debra Elson and remarkably, took only ten days to put together.
The beautifully designed set really drew you into performance and helped the play become as realistic as possible. It included a stunning painting of a sunset over the sea, with an open view of a well put together ship placed directly in front. Wooden ribs rose up to form the side of the vessel while swinging rope lappers stretch upwards connecting to the crow’ nest. The ship is completed by an impressive steering wheel in the centre.
However, it was the talented group of young actors, age 9-17, who brought the set to life. Telling the adventure of Stevenson’s protagonist, Jim Hawkins, who is impressively played by 13 year old Ronan O’Leary and his search for the buried treasure of an evil pirate, Captain Flint. The performance begins with an inspiring creation of a rowdy bar, with a mesmerising cast of drunkards creating a realistic and uplifting atmosphere which draws the audience in from the start. From here on Jim’s life is filled with adventure searching for treasure with a crew of pirates led by cunning Long John Silver (played by Samuel Norris) while also being accompanied by an upper class English men, Captain Smollett (Oliver Horle) and Squire Trelawney (Lola Rush-Miller). Later in the play, the shipmates divide and Jim Hawkins is forced through circumstances to become a man and save the day.
Each actor is worth noting and all give impressive strong performances, but standouts include the lead, Ronan O’Leary whose use of body language and expression added greatly to the performance and character development of Jim Hawkins. Samuel Norris gave an exceptional performance as Long John Silver, putting on an impressive pirate accent which never failed the duration. A long with Sam Gower acting as Israel Hands and Charlie McCarthy playing Benn Gun, who from the cheering and laughter from the audience, were warmly received and were obvious favourites throughout the show. The use of movement and mime from the supporting cast throughout the performance created that extra magic which both enthralled and added to the drama and enjoyment, not to mention the entertainment provided by the props department when dismantling a set between scenes.
The design elements of the production were superb. The stage lighting was effective as well as the sound effects, the most impressive being the booming gunshots and sounds of the sea. The costumes and make up were authentic and professional and assisted in enhancing the show. The most memorable being Israel Hands’ beard! The set was immensely impressive, including the props which added greatly to the setting, really giving a feel for the specific location and period of the classic.
It captures the adventure and excitement of Treasure Island perfectly and is filled with light-hearted humour which was well received by the audience throughout the performance. Chipstead Players provide affordable theatre and a good family outing with something for everyone to enjoy.
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