Never afraid to break new ground, this theatre long ago turned its back on traditional festive fare in favour of more adventurous productions. This season it has handed its larger auditorium to a film programme and taken up residence in its more intimate studio theatre instead.
Nisa Cole (Jem), Ann Marcuson (Captain Molly Hands) and Gareth Cassidy (Tom Morgan) in Treasure Island at The Dukes, Lancaster
It’s a brave move but being presented in the round makes perfect sense given the boat and island settings of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale.
Currently a regular Coronation Street writer, adaptor Debbie Oates uses that soap’s accessible language to shift the story to the sands of Morecambe Bay with plenty of local references and accents to put even the youngest audience member at ease with what can be a pretty scary story.
She also swaps central character Jim Hawkins’ gender - giving the excellent Nisa Cole full impish reign as Jemina. Equality is brought to the world of piracy with Ann Marcuson impressive as Captain Molly Hands when she’s not doubling as Ben Gunn.
Throw in hoody carol singers and a Long John Silver straight from the annals of Monty Python - “I’m unarmed - and not an abundance of legs in truth,” deadpans Ali Watt, clearly revelling in being the least frightening pirate ever to sail the seven seas in a production which would even bring a smile to Stevenson’s face.