Style and Substance Combined in TRP’s Treasure Island
Theatre in the Round Players is admired for its realistic productions of classic plays. But their Treasure Island is a less orthodox, though definitely admirable, departure from what one thinks of as a TRP production. Director Noah Bremer’s inventive staging of Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel uniquely re-imagines TRP’s modest arena space. Pallets supported by actors’ hands and feet while their backs are lying on the stage floor are made to signify a floating ship deck. The pallets also become tables and chairs. At times a sail divides the stage. Palm tree set pieces are hung. Sadie Ward’s effectively functional set design suits Bremer’s concept perfectly. Daniel Ellis and Adam Vahrenkamp’s lighting is hauntingly evocative.
Nimble, highly physical actors snappily play numerous scenes, many of which viscerally convey combat and violence. Moreover, this crackling cast gets to the moral and emotional core of the story, so it’s not just all dazzle. Though the show often does dazzle and that’s very nice indeed. Jason Paul Andrews as young Jim Hawkins epitomizes youthful innocence tossed against dark uber-macho forces in the form of pirates and the duplicitous Long John Silver, who covets the treasure Jim has access to. Silver, played with clever cunning by David Tufford, epitomizes the mentality that oversees underground economies. So if you think you’re just getting an adventure for boys, you’re only partially right. It’s a young man’s moral education, from innocence to terrible awareness, well written and brilliantly staged.
Through May 19
Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Av., Mpls.