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Silchester Players - Treasure Island

25th to 26th January and 1st to 2nd February 2019

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Cheesy panto takes the biscuit

Silchester Player: Treasure Island, at Silchester Village Hall, on Friday, January 25, Saturday, January 26, Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2

When the curtains opened to a stage full of villagers going into a rousing and polished song and dance routine, we could tell we were in for a classy production. Treasure Island by Phil Wilmott is more of a show than a panto; nothing wrong with that, and there were a few moments of “He’s behind you!”, but the general appeal may be to an older audience.

Our hero Jim Hawkins, played with confidence and panache by Faith Albrecht, is recruiting crew to go hunting for treasure on behalf of Lady Trelawney (a suitably toffee-nosed performance by Charlie Henkey). They end up with many women in the crew, much to the disgust of Captain Smollett, played with stern disdain by Stephen Bibby. The crew also include smooth-talking Long John Silver (Kevin Belcher, strong and charismatic) with an impressive wooden leg and accompanied by a very smart parrot manipulated and voiced by Amanda Albrecht. We know Silver’s a rogue but Jim gives him the benefit of the doubt.

In the second half we arrive at Treasure Island and meet Ben Gunn, a strong portrayal by Zoe Cole who also played Blind Pugh in the first half. Ben is, of course, desperate for cheese, leading to a delightfully surreal ‘cheese-themed millinery’ dance, with Cole singing some songs Queen never quite recorded including We Want Roquefort, Tasty Little Thing Called Cheese and I Want to Taste Cheese.

Finally the treasure is found and Jim toughens up, clapping Silver in irons as they return home.

One of the highlights of director Mari Fleming’s show was the excellent choreography, both adult and children, by Trevor Dobson, Faye Cottrell and Emma Hawkins, including a lovely cat and mouse dance (cheese related, again!) by the children.

The set was simple but bold, with side tabs representing the village and the ship, leaving the stage free for the huge cast (31 listed in the programme). The clothes were sumptuous and colourful.

Putting on such a large production is a big task, and all credit to director, producer, cast and crew for such a well-paced, well-acted and enjoyable show.