Though mainly famed as the wellspring of familiar tropes of the ever-popular pirate adventure genre, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is also remarkable in its portrayal of a terrific morally ambiguous villain – unusual for a children’s tale, and the first such that many of us encounter in a lifetime of reading. Long John Silver is unforgettable not because he is a remorseless, greedy cutthroat, but on account of his affable charm and his soft spot for the young narrator, the resourceful cabin boy Jim Hawkins. Coming to terms with our mixed feelings about such a character can be a powerfully transformative experience in a young person’s appreciation of literature and drama.
Though girls have long thrilled to this seafaring saga just as much as the boys for whom Stevenson intended it, the story, originally devoid of female characters, was deemed ripe for a touch of the transformative itself by the National Theatre of London. Its recent production of Treasure Island, adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay, cast young actress Patsy Ferran as Jim, the innkeeper’s granddaughter improbably employed as a cabin girl on a quest propelled by a treasure map. Filling the role of the one-legged rascal Silver was an actor best-known for embodying Rory on Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill. The production employed a fantastic rotating bi-level set to evoke the exotic settings of an 18th-century inn, a schooner at sea, a stockade and a cave on a (nearly) desert island.
This gender-bending production was, happily, caught on film, and will be screened at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 22 at the Rosendale Theatre as part of its ongoing National Theatre Live series. The story is too dark, scary and violent for little ones, but kids age 10 and up will have the time of their lives at this show – especially if Treasure Island is new to them. Don’t miss it!
Tickets cost $12 for general admission, $10 for Rosendale Theatre Collective members. For more information call (845) 658-8989 or visit https://rosendaletheatre.org.
National Theatre Live’s Treasure Island, Sunday, February 22, 3 p.m., $12/$10, Rosendale Theatre, 408 Main Street, Rosendale; (845) 658-8989, https://rosendaletheatre.org.