Society : Aldermaston Players
Production : Treasure Island
Date : Friday 25th July
Venue : The Barn
Report by : Jeanette Maskell
On Friday 25th of July I was delighted to be invited to review Treasure Island by the Aldermaston Players. This was an open air picnic event, and though there had been a shower earlier in the day the weather stayed dry for the evening. Many of the audience had bought along their picnics and were enjoying pre-show festivities.
Treasure Island was first a map that Stevenson drew for the amusement of his stepson. The map proved so interesting that he created a story to go along with it, reading installments of the story to his family as he finished them. This adventurous tale of buccaneers and buried treasure was first published in 1883.
I felt this adaptation by Phil Wilmott kept all Stevenson’s characters, and plot and was extremely well written. It gave ample opportunities for the 17 members of the cast a real chance to shine.
Cartherine Hannan – (Jim Hawkins) This was a sympathetic and believable characterisation by Catherine and she kept in character whether involved in the action or just an onlooker. She had a youthful naivety, which was well conveyed in her movement. She interacted well with her fellow performers and built a good rapport with the audience. Her diction and projection were excellent, well done on a good performance.
Chris Faulkner – (Long John Silver) Chris really made this role his own. He was devious, alluring, and made it obvious as to why young Jack would have found a father figure in him. His timing was excellent, and what a feat (no pun intended) to maneuver round the stage with such agility on one leg!
Cathy Ramsell – (Lady Jacqueline Trelawney) What a full and rounded character Cathy had crafted. This further developed as the story progressed; I particularly liked her aloofness, her stature, and her accent. Her interaction with the rest of the cast was superb.
Sean Faulkner – (Ben Gunn) – I really enjoyed Sean’s performance. His gangly lolling gait, his smilingly vacant facial expressions, maximised his characterisation entirely. His cheese medley was totally inspired and he had rather a good voice to boot!
Sean Faulkner – (Blind Pugh) – In complete contrast to his character as Ben Gunn, Sean was as evil as the role dictated. With harsh gravelly dialogue and a tall upright bearing, he commanded the stage admirably.
Warwick Brown – (Black Dog) – With long black tussled locks and barking voice, Warwick was in every way the perfect canine caricature. He moved as easily on all fours as he did upstanding.
Christopher Boott – (George Merry/Billy Bones) This was such an enjoyable performance by Christopher, there was a real sense of fun about his whole demeanour in both roles. Diction and projection could not be faulted. His death scene was suitably overdone and appreciated by the audience.
Karen Dignan – (Lucinda Livesey) – Karen had good stage presence, and threw herself wholeheartedly into this role. It was one that suited her admirably, as she flitted after Lady Jacqueline, talking incessantly about rare butterflies and not mentioning treasure at all.
Nigel Wilson – (Captain Smollett) – This was a fine characterisation. I noted a few nerves early on; however Nigel came through and finished with a flourish. He projected his dialogue articulately if somewhat stilted at times, though this did not detract from the characterisation.
Tricia Goodchild – (Captain Flint) – I can find no mention of whether this parrot was constructed by the society or whether it was hired. Whichever, this was an exceptional puppet. To be a good puppeteer it takes a lot of practice and a large degree of skill. Tricia manipulated Captain Flint with real professionalism. She had found the perfect pitch for his speaking voice, and created a character we could truly believe in
As the omnipresent support for the principals, each of you had developed an individual character, befitting the plot. I was particularly impressed with your entrances, exits and vocals. There was not one weak link; all had good diction and projection, which meant we did not miss any of the action. (Although one or two of you did manage to give the prompt something to do throughout the evening) The unaccompanied musical numbers were well sung, and it was obvious that everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves. Well done to Nightingale Nell for pitching the perfect key and her number prior to the interval was a delight
Chris Boott – (Director) – Chris had put together a great piece of theatre. There were some nice little touches where the actors went out amongst the audience and even enlisted the help of two little girls in order to win the tug-o-war for the female team. He had developed just the right contrast between good and evil whilst maintaining the humour needed to make this a fun entertaining show. Chris had made the most of the acting area with some good placing making sure the stage was well dressed at all times. He had expertly drilled the cast, which was clear from their first entrance, to their final bow.
Sandra Faulkner – (Stage Manager) & Crew – Although the crew had comparatively little to do, they did it effectively and efficiently, and ensured the cast were able to make their entrances in a seemly fashion.
Scenery – This was a simple two act static set, which worked well for the staging and maximised the acting area.
Lighting & Oeperation – Being an outdoor event, the lighting was of no consequence until the evening dimmed sufficiently. When I did become aware, I found it to be simple but effective, lighting the acting area right into the recesses.
Costumes – (Ange Boott) these were excellent; very apt for the pirates and piratesses. I really liked the attire of the female chorus with an overlay on skirts in the first act and pantaloons in the second when they joined the crew, so imaginative. The other costumes were similarly effective and of period.
Hair & Make-up – The wigs were exceptional and so authentic to the period. They looked great and the cast were confident wearing them. Make-up was light and well applied which for this event where the cast were so involved with the audience, was perfect.
Programme – this was well edited and informative; covering future events in the village and telling us about the pair of Swallows that are resident at the barn. It was also lovely to see a picture of Henry presenting you with a NODA award, though it would have been nice to know which one.
Front of House – were pleasant and said they hoped I had a good time, and then directed me to the grass in front of the stage area. However I was rather left to my own devices, which I’m sure, was due to the venue. I look forward seeing the group again
Jeanette Maskell – NODA Representative – London Region – Area 13