Theatre review - Treasure Island, Williamson Park, Lancaster
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Jump aboard The Hispaniola and set sail on a magical journey around Lancaster’s Williamson Park as the Dukes Theatre mark the 30th year of their outdoor productions.
There are productions in parks all over the country now, but the original is still by far the best and this year’s offering, Treasure Island, cements that reputation.
It’s a magical re-working of their 2012 Christmas show which makes full and clever use of the landscape of the park and is laced with customary Dukes humour.
The action takes place in six locations around the park with the audience trooping from scene to scene in enchanted wonder as Jem Hawkins goes in search of treasure with her uncle David.
The story has been adapted by tv scriptwriter Debbie Oates and there’s lots in there for families to enjoy – ages in the audience on the night of our visit ranged from about five to 75.
The way the park itself is used to create atmosphere and effect is, as ever, wonderful. The sets are generally fairly sparse, making clever use of not much to create an awful lot, and the effect is enhanced by the twinkling lights in the trees and the superb costumes.
Natasha Davidson – who Dukes regulars will remember as Belle in Beauty and the Beast – is superb as Jem and Victoria Brazier impresses as the flawed Captain Molly. And Gareth Cassidy (a long-time favourite among Dukes audiences) is his usual scene-stealing self as bungling pirate Tom Morgan.
Among the cast of the Dukes’ early outdoor shows were film star Andy Serkis and Coronation Street actor Cherylee Houston and there may well be some stars in the making among the members of The Dukes Young Company who performed superbly as pirates alongside the cast of seven professional actors.
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And they were all helped in the adventure by exquisite puppets but for all the wonderful staging, performances and costume, it’s the songs that will stay with audiences longest. There’s lots of them this year and there’s a very good chance you’ll be singing them – and particularly the pirate song – for days afterwards.
* To book tickets for Treasure Island, which is recommended for anyone aged five plus, ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit www.dukes-lancaster.org.
Treasure Island, runs until August 12