Patience and perseverance, buried treasure, and a whole lot of talent pay off in B. H. Barry’s extraordinarily imaginative production of Treasure Island adapted for the stage by Vernon Morris and Mr. Barry based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson now running at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. However you get there, get there.
Mr. Barry has believed in this project and has been developing it for over twelve years. He is a master fight director and he has now graduated into a master director. This is a first rate, beautifully produced; highly theatrical version of the story of a young lad Jim Hawkins (a phenomenal Noah E. Galvin) who becomes a man and in the process meets up with pirates, swordplay, storms and high seas and death – learning about trust and friendship in the process.
Without a strong and magnetic Jim Hawkins this narrative would have sunk. Luckily enough Mr. Galvin shines in the part. He is young and smart and willing to learn the ropes. He tells us his story and we listen intently. He gradually matures before our eyes and we care for him as he cares for the ruthless, one legged con artist Long John Silver played to the hilt and then some by Tom Hewitt. Commanding the stage as equals they are a perfect match.
This is not a small production. Thirteen actors. And a live parrot (Maui) for good luck. As if the needed it. It is expertly acted by all. You will be enthralled by Black Dog and George Merry (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend). You will be awed by Blind Pew and Ben Gunn (Tom Beckett). Amazed by the transformation of Ken Schatz as Chanteyman who sings as the episodic scenes change, and then becomes Mrs. Hawkins and then Redruth. And revel in the hubris and humor that Kenneth Tigar adds as Squire Trelawney.
Every member of this impeccable cast sets the story in motion and keeps it moving with four platforms on casters. Ropes hang from the ceiling. There is a large mast with rigging that the actors ascend. Barrels of rum. There are musket shots and cannon shots and the smell of gun powder in the air. There is fog and the sound of the seas and lightning and some of the most incredible fight scenes ever staged. Up close and for real. One slip and it’s over. Mr. Barry is not called a master for nothing.
The set by Tony Straiges fills the Irondale Center perfectly. The elaborate period costumes (Luke Brown)enhance as does the lighting design by Stewart Wagner.
Treasure Island is an incredible adventure as seen through the eyes of a young man. It is a majestic tale that has been given a superb and exciting production. Bring the kids, just beware of low flying parrots.
www.Irondale.org Through March 26th. Tickets $20 – $45
Photo: Ken Howard