The Treasure Island cast: AJ, Simon, Daisy and Helen
Indoors is the new outdoors, just for today – Photo © Julian Swainson
Heading out for Hautbois Hall on an exceedingly damp Tuesday I was wondering if it was such a bright idea to review an outdoor show in the middle of a torrential rain storm. Following a set of mysterious arrows I found myself in a barn that looked as though it was being prepared for a wedding, where thankfully the Strange Fascination Theatre (SFT) show ‘Treasure Island’ had been moved indoors.
SFT are a great company for outdoor shows, they seem to thrive in a green space with the slight air of chaos that a live outdoor show for kids will always generate. Yet the barn gave us a fabulous acoustic and comfy chairs for all, a major plus point for this ageing child.
For this show the company comprises just four members, with company leading members Simon Michael-Morgan and Daisy Plackett both taking lead roles, although co-stars Helen Fullerton and AJ Deane cover just as many multiple characters too. The foursome gel well together and each gives us several memorable characters to enjoy.
The original RL Stevenson tale gave us lots of the stereotypes of swashbuckling piracy that have inspired many a yarn including no doubt the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series. The original was rather testosterone fuelled and irredeemably male, but SFT have updated the tale with strong female roles and a strong moral compass pointing to compassion and humanity as the way to win life’s treasures. It is also a family friendly show for all ages to enjoy.
All four cast members are strong singers and the show is filled with familiar songs that an audience can easily join in with if they choose to. They swap into many different characters with quick changes of props and costume detail. The story is complex and detailed as it is true to the original Stevenson yarn, this means that it is a long show to bring indoors where the younger children (and the cast) cannot run around with the freedom normally a feature of the SFT outdoor shows.
As we expect from SFT there are all kinds of props and a few surprise (non human) characters including a very cheeky parrot called Flint. There are swordfights, pistols and all manner of scuffles and scrapes, but all depicted in a nicely stylised manner that will not give your little ones any bad dreams.
All in all these have been tough times for the acting business and it is a delight to see this talented and lively company back out in Norfolk doing what they do best, keeping families happy with a great show. Search for Strange Fascination Theatre on Facebook to find the latest updates on this how and make sure you catch it before the treasure disappears!
© Julian Swainson 2021