Treasure Island – The Pirate Panto

Studio Theatre     Studio Theatre, Salisbury Lloyd Perry     6 December 2022

This was my first time in reviewing the award winning Studio Theatre based in their purpose built theatre in Salisbury.

There is no better way to kick start the Christmas festivities than with a pantomime, and this was the offering from Studio, self-penned by the director Ian Flindell.

The story does not need too much explaining and is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic book. The story starts in the Admiral Bimbo Inn on the North Somerset coast and, over 14 scenes, takes the audience on a journey to find the missing treasure on ‘Treasure Island’ But things are not as easy as they appear with the dastardly dealings of Long John Silver and his crew of pirates trying to stop the group from getting what is rightfully theirs. All in all by the end good prevails over bad!

There are some stand out performances in this show. Kris Hamilton, playing Mrs ‘awkins, the pantomime Dame is great from the start; he brings wonderful characterisation and the show to life with his over the top character and costume. Long John is played darkly and brilliantly by Paul Chalmers who gets just the right balance of baddy. His interaction with the audience and occasional ‘ad libbing’ really adding to the overall production. They are both more than ably supported by Amy Godfrey-Arkle as Portland Bill, one of the pirates, who is great with the audience and really gets into the character well and David Rhodes playing Cromarty a wonderful Scottish pirate who had a great accent and delivered some very funny lines with aplomb.

There was brilliant interwoven musical numbers throughout the production which really added to the feel and atmosphere of the production. A big shout out to John Wippell, Andrew Harrison-King and Ian Flindell for playing live throughout the performance.

The costume on this production is a real triumph with some brilliant bright and vivid costume. It is clear that costume designer Meryll Rae had a lot of great ideas that really lifted the production. I thought that the parrot costume was a delight!

At times it was hard to hear some of the cast, especially with some of the moves and backs to the audience and at some points, especially the start of the second half, the pace really did slow down which meant that some of the production was lost. I hope that some of the slow entrances onto the stage and slow scene changes that occurred will be ironed out and quickened up which I am sure will improve as the run goes on.

Overall my timbers were not shivered entirely by the production as it lacked a bit of panto sparkle but by the response of the near sell out audience on the second night shows it has all the makings of being a hit. There are some limited seats available for the rest of the run so if you are passing it is worth a look!