Treasure Island from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by Joseph George Caruso.† Free Rain Theatre directed by Anne Somes.† Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, Wednesdays to Sundays January 16-27, 2008, 2pm (45 mins, no interval).† Bookings: 6275 2700.
This is a highly rumbustious performance which I recommend for children from about 7 years of age.† The play is entirely plot driven, in every sense of the word, and the pirates are very loud and very funny.† I fear younger children might be aífeard, but for the right age (and for their adult minders) itís all good indelicate fun.
The pirate crew are suitably devious, ebullient and wonderfully nasty.† Iím sure they all studied Pirates of the Caribbean for their parts, but I must say that David Villanti makes Captain Billy Bones and (after he dies), Long John Silver into rum characters without looking a bit like Johnny Depp.
Threats of violence and death make up a large part of this rollicking story, and by the way show how romantic Robert Louis Stevenson was about piracy.† Maybe Greenpeace should take up his approach, considering the success of Treasure Island since 1883.† I recall the characters from my childhood in a quite friendly light despite Stevenson telling the story in a serious frame of mind.† Perhaps this production is not true to the book, being almost a spoof, but at least it maintains Stevensonís myth, enhanced later in Peter Pan, of pirates being essentially good at heart (except that Long John Silver didnít have a parrot, much to my disappointment).
Itís pure entertainment, quite different from Free Rainís other presentation, on the same days, of The Secret Garden, and I think for a smaller age range Ė say, 6-14.
Presenting theatre for children is a new direction for Free Rain.† The 2008 program includes Jack and the Beanstalk in April, and The Jungle Book in July.
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