The Garden Suburb Theatre (GST) is a friendly and welcoming amateur theatre company.

We are a registered charity promoting involvement in the Dramatic Arts in North London. We welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about drama, either by participating in or coming to watch one of our diverse programme of shows.

Review

Treasure Island, Pirates, Parrots, Booty

As any half-decent pirate will tell you, the secret to a successful voyage lies in the power of its crew or, in the case of GST's production of Treasure Island at the Gatehouse last December, its ensemble.

In selecting such a well-beloved and famous tale, the cast and production team of Treasure Island had quite a task on their hands before the proverbial curtain was even raised. Despite this, however, Robert Louis Stevenson's renowned coming-of-age story of betrayal, greed and adventure was, this reviewer is happy to report, given the due care and attention it so rightly deserved.

From the minute the production set sail, marked by a spluttering Jon Musker's excellent and red-faced suffering, the audience was treated to a cacophony of detailed, nuanced and well-thought-out character turns. A servile and jittery John Colmans proved a nice contrast against the splendid rigour and pomp of Toby Moore's Trelawney, while an adeptly-played browbeaten Doctor Livesey (Ian Grainger) was every inch the parallel to the feral and menacing presence of Joe Solomons and Gabriel Musker.

Special mentions must be given to Edward Smith and Andy Farrer who, in addition to Colmans, respectively juggled three roles a piece. Smith made for an excellent and weasely baddie, while Farrer was charismatic and imposing in each of his very distinct characterisations.

We were treated at the helm to solid and engaging performances from Mark Overall and Isaac Rudden (as Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins). Rudden made for an instantly likeable and reliable protagonist. Every scrap of dialogue was given his utmost focus and he proved an engaging watch for his audience - a giving and exhaustive performance indeed. Mark Overall not only avoided making his infamous character a caricature, but gifted us with a magnetic and sympathetic anti-hero. His betrayal was played warm-heartedly, making it all the more notable, while his enigmatic presence provided a strong backbone for us to lean on (literally). And we must, of course, mention his clear aptitude for acrobatics of the one-legged variety!

Below deck, director Debbie Lane proved a fine captain. She effectively fostered a playful and wild atmosphere on stage and a visible camaraderie amongst the cast, perfect for such a boisterous tale. The decision to include a suspiciously-bearded stage crew (cunningly disguised as an excellently threatening gaggle of shipmates and tavern-dwellers) was a smart one, while the sword fights and brawls were a treasure to watch.

In terms of set, props and costume, we were once again spoiled by the artistic flair and ingenuity of Frances Musker and co, particularly in Long John Silver's magnificent red coat and an endless army of enviable silk scarves. Further, a smartly designed set (from the magnificently multi-tasking Farrer) allowed for seamless set changes, with the space transformed from rigging to ale house in a sailor's wink.

Praise too for the talented Georgia Price and Emma Jane Sullivan, whose bearding, mire-applying and scar-making skills were well worth a Blue Peter Badge.

Only a few minor criticisms are worth mentioning. While the production certainly benefitted from a larger cast, at times the blocking seemed just a tad erratic. It must be said, however, on a majority of occasions, the gruff hubbub proved wonderfully atmospheric, thanks not only to the brilliantly mannish Rachel Berg and intimidating Natalie White, but the entertaining presence of the entire crew of the good ship Musker.

Lastly, while the musical accompaniment worked well in most instances, the inclusion of Dropkick Murphy's 'I'm Shipping Up to Boston' proved a little distracting and out of odds with the more classical choices dotted throughout the production.

Over all, though, a solid, layered and enjoyable production of a complex and well-known tale, effectively performed by its cast and smartly executed by its crew. Argggggghh, me hearties!

Review by Y.N.

This is a review of Treasure Island

The original review is from the GST NewsReel 1 April 2014