My, but this one’s beautiful – Lizzie Clachan’s design of the National Theatre’s big family Christmas show is both ambitious and magical. It makes full use of the Olivier’s drum revolve, framing the space with giant ribs of wood that look alternately like the bow of the Hispaniola and the crags of Captain Flint’s swampy, tropical island, as well as resembling the belly of some great marine beast.
Polly Findlay’s entertaining take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure is thrillingly executed. Patsy Ferran completely makes the case for the recasting of Jim as a girl, while Arthur Darvill is gently malevolent as Long John Silver, a quiet and charming kind of villain. It’s just a shame that the relationship between Ferran and Darvill isn’t given more room to develop, as they have an intriguing rapport that would make his inevitable betrayal all the more dismaying. As it is, they’re both charismatic in their own different ways, and Joshua James makes an endearingly twitchy Ben Gunn; the animatronic parrot is quite something as well.
Bryony Lavery’s faithful take on the text could perhaps do with a little more peril but there’s a lot to rejoice in here, particularly in the second half when the crew arrives on the island and everything gets a little sharper and darker.
Verdict: Entertaining and beautifully designed adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure
- Olivier, National, London
- December 3-April 8, PN December 10
- Authors: Robert Louis Stevenson, Bryony Lavery adaptation
- Director: Polly Findlay
- Musical director: Theo Jamieson
- Design: Lizzie Clachan set, Bruno Poet lighting, Dan Jones sound
- Technical: Martin Barron production manager, Shane Thom stage manager
- Cast includes: Patsy Ferran, Arthur Darvill, Daniel Coonan, Claire-Louise Cordwell, Paul Dodds, Heather Dutton
- Producer: National Theatre
- Running time: 2hrs 25mins
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