Kanata Theatre’s Treasure Island turns to dross

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Categories: Community Theatre

Photo: Kanata Theatre

“I don’t do nuance,” George W. Bush once famously observed. Neither does Kanata Little Theatre when it comes to bringing Treasure Island to the stage. The people involved in this noisy, strident, generally unsubtle offering seem to think it’s being mounted in the cavernous Canadian Tire Centre just down the road rather than in the intimate Ron Maslin Playhouse. Too often, Wendy Wagner’s production seems more of a shouting match rather than a proper performance with both the Robert Louis Stevenson
novel on which it is based, as well as Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation, often perishing in the din.
To be sure, there are some good things about the production The design factor is spectacularly successful. Karl Wagner’s set works wonderfully both as the Admiral Benbow Inn and as a vessel in search of buried treasure. Wagner is also responsible for the atmospheric lighting, while Maxine Ball deserves credit for the outstanding costumes and Robert Fairbairn scores with the show’s soundscape. Fight choreographer Aaron Lajeunesse has come through with some nimbly executed swordplay. And the scene changes are fluidly managed.

A pity then that there’s so much deadwood in the performances. Still, there are a few nuggets. Fourteen-year-old Jillian Facchin delivers a lively Jim Hawkins and shows some understanding of the needs of the material. Stavros Sakiadis makes a good stab at
communicating the likeable roguery of Long John Silver, although the script lets him down when it comes to one of the novel’s most fascinating elements — the bond that forms between him and young Jim.

Rory McCormick bellows too much as Billy Bones, but still communicates character and presence. And Gordon Walls, one of those rare cast members who recognizes that a whisper can be more powerful than a shout, is suitably creepy as Blind Pew. The production seems to move vigorously, but really it’s a more a matter of maintaining a determined, uninspired rhythm than providing cadence. Treasure Island is a classic adventure, but in this production are we really convinced of the high stakes involved in the story? Do we really care? The answer is no.

The Kanata Theatre production of Treasure Island continues to May 27.

Director: Wendy Wagner
Set and lighting: Karl Wagner
Sound: Robert Fairbairn
Costumes: Maxine Ball

Cast
Jeremy Rathbone/Ben Gunn……………………………Alex Henkelman
Justice Death……………………………………………Emily Walsh
Israel Hands/Black Dog…………………………………Aaron LaJeunesse
George Merry/Bailiff’s son…………………………….Bruno Tilgner
Anne Bonny…………………………………………….Emma Hickey
Ezekiel Hazard/Bailiff’s son……………………………Jamie Hegland
Job O’Brien/Bailiff/Squire Trelawney…………………Jim Clarke
Captain Flint/Dr. Livesey……………………………….Dan Desmarais
Jim Hawkins…………………………………………….Jillian Facchin
Mr. Hawkins/Long John Silver…………………………Stavros Sakiadis
Mrs. Hawkins/Lady on dock/Pirate…………………….Tracy Facchin
Widow Drews/Lady on dock……………………………Tracey Bourke
Rev. Rev. Mainwaring/Captain Smollett……………………..Wayne Murray
Billy Bones/Squire’s man……………………………….Rory McCormick
Barrow boy/Beggar/Tom Morgan/Pirate……………….Marco Cornejo
Blind Pew/Calico/Jack………………………………….Gordon Walls


Past Reviews