Treasure Island: Mediocre production with great technical elements

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo: Kanata Theatre

Treasure Island
By Ken Ludwig
Adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kanata Theatre
Directed by Wendy Wagner

The treasure to be found in the Kanata Theatre production of Treasure Island is its design and technical achievement.

But much of the rest of Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure story — written to entertain his stepson, with “no need of psychology of fine writing”— is boring, repetitive and noisy in the KT production, directed by Wendy Wagner.

Given that Stevenson also specifically excluded women in the original, it is discomforting to see the two female pirates, not in gender-neutral capacities, but directed to act as seductive ladies of the night.

The fact that the teenager playing Jim Hawkins is also female is far less bothersome. Jillian Facchin has a clear understanding of the role and articulates well.

That’s more than can be said for most of the rest of the cast, who frequently equate shouting with articulation — to the point that they are as difficult to understand as the weak, mumbling, bumbling Squire Trelawney (Jim Clarke). It is difficult to get any sense of adventure or involvement in the presentation of this episodic boy’s adventure story, despite the bustle, swagger and clamor.

In addition, Ludwig’s adaptation creates particular credibility issues for the Long John Silver character. Is he a villain or a father figure for Jim? Little wonder that Stavros Sakiadis has difficulty being convincing as either.

The good news about an otherwise uninspiring theatrical venture is Karl Wagner’s excellent set and lighting design. Other technical aspects, including Maxine Ball’s costumes and Aaron Lajeunesse’s fight choreography are also worthy of mention.

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. 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


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