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Shiver Me Timbers! Lifeline's Treasure Island Is Explosive

By Suzy Evans in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 21, 2009 5:20PM

Photo by Suzanne Plunkett
Theater critics don’t applaud very often. It’s part of their attempt not to be associated with the theater’s marketing department, and if you happen to be at the same show as a critic, god forbid you should know how they feel about the show before it’s in newsprint. (Err, blog type.) If they really like a play, sometimes they’ll tap their fingers together, or maybe even allow full hand on hand contact, but actual sound never results. However, after Lifeline Theatre’s world premiere stage adaptation of Treasure Island, every pair of press kit holding hands was violently smacking together, and we wouldn’t be exaggerating if we said a few critics, even the recognizable ones, were sitting on the edge of their seats, begging for more.

We were definitely among that group of clapping critics, and if you don’t believe us, we’re confident you can read most any review of this show and they’ll all say the same thing. John Hildreth’s adaptation of the age-old novel by Robert Louis Stevenson is nothing short of stunning, and although Wikipedia claims it is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels, we’re confident this production could blow the others out of the water. Before the show began, Lifeline Artistic Director Dorothy Milne warned audience members that there was going to be gunfire, but before the first shot was fired, we knew we were in for so much more.

Hildreth’s adaptation tells the iconic tale of Captain Flint’s buried treasure through the eye witness accounts of young Jim Hawkins, Captain Smollet and Doctor Livesey. If you haven’t read the original text like (like us), you probably know the basics of the story - buried treasure, the black spot, and a the questionably moral one-legged seaman Long John Silver, who’s name is arguably more well-known than Captain Jack Sparrow.

From the perfectly constructed three-tiered set to the expertly choreographed fight scenes to the subtleties in sound design - a bar scene has the perfect background of white noise - the success of this production is in the details. Every actor executes a crisp dialect and even the tiny bits of debris in Ben Gunn’s ragged wig lend an expert sense of reality. This show is as close to perfection as they come, and if you have a thing for pirates, it’s just that much better.

Treasure Island runs through Nov. 11 at Lifeline Theatre (6912 N. Glenwood Ave.). Tickets are $30 and $15 for students with I.D.