The Dukes’ Treasure Island is a hit!

The Dukes walkabout theatre has kicked off again with this year’s performance of Treasure Island.

This year, Treasure Island started off in the park’s newly renovated kids’ play area, with members of the Dukes Youth Theatre setting a lively scene playfully mimicking what you might expect to see at parks across the country as the sun goes down. The boombox blared and the kids danced and jockeyed, and the show was underway, introducing some of the well known characters from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘coming of age’ novel, written in 1883.

Treasure Island is the latest in a 30-year string of shows in the park. They have become something of an institution. Swathes of the audience arrive in suitably piratical attire, and there’s good cheer rain or shine.

Debbie Oates’ adaptation gives us plucky Jem Hawkins (Natasha Davidson), bullied by her peers and feeling ignored by her family, and longing for adventure with her travelling Uncle.

A slightly convoluted plot surrounding a copy of Treasure Island that contains an actual treasure map leads Jem and Uncle David (Niall Costigan) to set sail, meeting Long John Silver (Jake Norton with an extraordinary pirate accent) and the rest on their way. Director Joe Sumsion makes an enjoyable, though long, family show, complete with excellent, back-chatting parrot and a rather splendid shark.

The park itself provides designer Barney George with plenty of scope for ships and stockades alike, and the cast is enthusiastic especially The Dukes Young Company, who play the pirate crew.

It’s a fun show, though, with a couple of magical moments – the pirate ship floating off into the dusk, accompanied by outraged ducks, being one.