"Treasure Island, Pirates, Parrots, Booty"
by Cameron Dunham for remotegoat on 02/12/13

On Sunday 1st December it was up the apples and pears to the Gatehouse Theatre for a trip down memory lane. This was to watch a lively performance of “Treasure Island”, offered by the Garden Suburb Theatre Players, as adapted by Stuart Paterson.

The production was a delight encompassing action, and a dialogue which ranged from the dramatic to wry-smile humour. Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of buried gold, mutiny on the high seas and nemesis was acted out by an enthusiastic and capable cast. The only mild, and strictly personal, disappointment that I experienced was that of the limited contribution from a diminutive and lifeless, model parrot. Her famous line of: “Pieces of eight, Pieces of eight,” was only uttered by one of the less flamboyant of Long John Silver’s blood-thirsty colleagues; I couldn’t help but miss the unforgettable, metallic croak of Robert Newton’s avian chum in the 1950’s film. But hey, this is Highgate, baby, not Hollywood!

On the other hand, a stand out scene in any production of “Treasure Island” has to be the visit to the Admiral Benbow Inn by Blind Pew to deliver the cursed Black Spot to Billy Bones, thus involving poor Jim Hawkins in the piratical, hocus pocus death notice, and setting the whole delightful adventure in train. This was particularly well done with Edward Smith’s ominously threatening performance setting a suitably macabre tone.

This play offered excellent entertainment and if Robert Newton were still with us I’m certain that he would have enjoyed the performance just as much as Sunday evening’s audience. As for me, I had a blast and Al Stewart’s “Lord Grenville’s Tide is on The Turn” was a well chosen, climactic soundtrack, as well as being a knowing wink to the more mature elements in the audience.

Although this was the last night of the current production, should it be repeated, hurry and book to enjoy a well acted, well crafted rendition that punches above its amateur billing. I shall certainly keep an eye open for the Garden Suburb Theatre’s future projects.

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