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Review – “Treasure Island” at Spreckels in Rohnert Park – by Harry Duke


Review – “Treasure Island” at Spreckels in Rohnert Park – by Harry Duke

In a textbook example of delivering something exactly as it advertises, Spreckels Theatre Company is presenting Treasure Island as an adventure for the entire family.  It’s a somewhat surprisingly straightforward adaptation by Ken Ludwig of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. Ludwig, best known for his farces like Lend Me a Tenor and Leading Ladies, covers all the bases in his compacted version of the 1883 novel about a young man coming of age through adventurous circumstances.

Opening of Treasure Island

Colorfully adorned Pirates? Check. Plucky young hero? Check. Adventure on the high seas? Check. Sword fights? Check. Musket battles? Check. Treasure and/or an island? Double check.

The show is well cast with young Jeremy Ivory-Chambers quite good as an earnest Jim Hawkins and Jon Rathjen appropriately wily as Long John Silver. Twenty additional roles are handled by the remaining cast of nine. All do yeoman’s work, with Chris Schloemp showing a nice range between the villainous Black Dog and foppish Squire Trelawney and William Thompson providing nice bits of comic relief.  

Director David Yen and designers Eddie Hansen and Elizabeth Bazzano manage to take a show set on a variety of ships, an inn, a seaside dock, and an island and squeeze it in the Condiotti black box theatre of the Spreckels Performing Arts Center. Projections provide a big assist in accomplishing this along with multi-purpose set pieces. Jessica Johnson’s sound design is also a key component for this production, whether it’s the ambient sounds of a ship at sea or the constant chirping of tropical wildlife helping to set the scenes. These technical elements along with the aforementioned costumes by Pamela Enz help transport you to the days of yore where a young man’s journey to adulthood just might include sailing halfway across the world and matching wits with the scurviest of elements.

Chris Schloemp, Jeremy Ivory-Chambers, Jon Rathjen

That journey includes, of course, a lot of violence, with most of the cast spending a lot of time prostrate on the stage floor. While it might seem odd for a family-friendly show to have such a high body count, when one considers the subject matter of most video games and movies today, it comes off as rather quaint. It was actually quite nice to see parents with their children enjoying this production. 

So grab the kiddies and spend an evening or afternoon with Blind Pew, Billy Bones, Ben Gunn, George Merry, Dr. Livesy and a talking parrot and sail the seas with Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver. If your young folk’s only exposure to piratry comes via Johnny Depp and Disney, think about taking a trip to Treasure Island and giving them a shot to see the original pirates of the Caribbean.

Treasure Island

presented by Spreckels Theatre Company

through October 4

Fri/Sat  @ 8pm, Sun @ 2pm, Thurs 10/01 @ 7:30pm

Spreckels Performing Arts Center
5409 Snyder Lane
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 588-3400

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Theater Reviews by Harry Duke