By Jordan Wright
Set sail for adventure with Synetic Theater’s lively production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale, “Treasure Island,” where the peg-legged pirate Long John Silver and his scurrilous band of buccaneers go in search of hidden riches on Skeleton Island.
Hired by Captain Smollet, Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney who commissions the voyage, Silver, protégé of the notorious Captain Flint who hid the treasure, pretends to be a lowly cook. Once aboard, Silver convinces the motley crew of scalliwags to switch allegiance, promising them riches beyond their wildest dreams.
At first, Silver befriends the beautiful orphan girl Jane Hawkins who has been gifted Flint’s treasure map by the late Billy Bones. Fans of the 19th-century adventure novel will note that Jim Hawkins’ role in this production is a female character who develops as much ferocity and fearlessness as any seafaring pirate.
if she will give him the map, but once aboard the Hispaniola, she learns his scheme to keep the treasure for himself. Oh, he’s a wily one.
“Treasure is like a disease. It infects the noblest of minds,” he cautions her.
Plotting to outfox our heroes, as well as the brave Jane Hawkins, Silver must figure out how to get the map that Jane has given to Dr. Livesey for safekeeping. But nothing goes as planned for either side as it’s criss-cross and double-cross, foul treachery and maritime mutiny, framed by dangerous storms at sea.
Chris Daileader, a mashup of Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, gives a fantastic performance replete with a British pirate’s accent as the crafty pirate Long John Silver. And Anne Flowers’ portrayal of Jane Hawkins makes us believe that a girl can do anything against all odds if she sets her cap to it. Seven more actors, each playing multiple roles, create the illusion that there is a huge cast. Scenes of rum-swilling pirates dancing to Irish jigs will dispel any and all evil spirits of the deep.
Director Tori Tolentino, set designer Phil Charlwood, movement director Dallas Tolentino and sound designer Thomas Sowers have taken this beloved pirate’s tale into the abstract with fantastical imagery and sheer athleticism and made the pages of the book come alive with swordfights and swagger on the high seas. Here prophecy and foul play transform into a rollicking adventure fit for children as well as their grownup captors.
With Karina Hilleard as Squire Trelawney; Da’Von T. Moody as Dr. Levesey; Billie Krishawn as Captain Smollett; Lee Liebeskind as Billy Bones/Israel Hands/Ensemble; Scott Whalen as Ben Gunn/Clem/Ensemble; Anna Lynch as Innkeeper/Morgan/ Ensemble; Raven Lorraine as Pew/Merry/Ensemble; Irene Hamilton as Black Dog/Tommie/Ensemble; Conor Donahue as Flint/Gates/Ensemble; and Darius Johnson as Abraham Grey/Tarth/Ensemble.
Highly recommended – especially coupled with a visit to Alexandria’s 18th-century, replica tall ship Providence, which is docked at the Alexandria City Marina, where children can indulge their own seafaring fantasies.