Susan Elkin | 31 Jul 2021 22:47pm
Half Cut theatre certainly knows how to entertain family audiences. And this show, complete with strong story telling, versatile acting, sea shanty-type songs and a wackily witty take on Cha Cha Slide is a fine example of it.
Most people know Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of Jim Hawkins sailing off with a shipload of goodies and baddies in search of treasure and this 80 minute take on it (devised and developed by the company) works because it keeps dropping in little dollops of inappropriately modern language thus never taking itself too seriously. It’s very funny in places. I love the idea of cheese-loving Ben Gunn coming home to run a cheesemonger stall in Leeds Market, for instance.
It’s also splendidly feminist. Verity Kirk plays Jim as a feisty girl with an astonishingly powerful voice. Sophie Wilkinson gives a really sparky account of the complex Long John Silver full of Scots menace and lithe charisma. And I don’t know whose idea it was to play the parrot as a louche, scarf draped female in yellow tights rather than the usual small puppet but James Camp is great fun in the role.
Francesca Barker, like the rest of the cast, hops adeptly in and out of roles and hats and finds a nice authoritarian stance for the Captainess. George Readshaw is a suitably nasty Blind Pew and hilarious as Ben Gunn who talks to the ducks because for many years they were his only company. And Alex Wilson is good value as the Squire Trelawney who never quite manages to be in charge.
I’m struck, again, by how well this company uses a wide range of accents to underpin the multi-rolling and make it so clear that even the youngest child in the audience will know who is who at all times.
I’m so glad that Half Cut Theatre has a good tour booked for this show and hope the rain continues to hold off for them as it did at Kentford, near Newmarket where I caught it.