Long John Silver may be a dastardly villain, but he’s reckoned without the Ladies of the Smuggler’s Cove Women’s Institute! This is Ben’s largest cast pantomime and a madcap, laugh a minute pirate adventure story from start to finish!
Review by Noda
Society: St Peter Players
Production: Treasure Island
Date: 9th December 2023
Report By: Judith Watsham
Thank you for inviting me to your 2022 Pantomime, a rollicking time was obviously had by all – audience and cast alike. Seating at tables is always a plus for me; the table décor was excellent and colourful and added greatly to the ambiance.
I always enjoy Ben Crocker’s pantomimes, especially when they are as well performed as your production was. Steve Cubbage, your competent Director, brought the show to life – even having to appear on stage when young Tom Webster, having appeared as Billy Bones, had to go home before his second appearance as Captain Bloodheart – such a shame Tom but rest assured Steve managed the part for you.
MD Toby Stafford-Allen and his percussionist Dominique Puddephatt kept you all under control, and the musical numbers all worked well whether they were performed to a live accompaniment or to tracks. Sound balance, Matt Smith, was as excellent as always.
The Old Time Musical Hall number If I were not upon this Ship, was a highspot for me. Very well-rehearsed moves from all the singers here and the audience, rightly, loved it. Congratulations to you all. Another highspot was Friendship. Congratulations to the performers involved here too.
The traditional Sing-a-Long worked very well and it was nice that it was included as not all pantos seem to these days.
Your three choreographers, Kate and Sophie Patterson with Steve Mark, all worked well on your small stage – it always amazes me just how well you manage to move your fairly big pantomime casts without damaging the set. Talking of which, Tina Barclay did her usual excellent job with the design and your set construction and painting teams, I am sure, carried out her instructions to the letter. The flats painted with maps were a nice touch. The Stage Crew managed changes well and I am sure the design helped with this.
Les Brewer’s lighting was good and the combination of Sound and Light to produce the storm worked well.
Jason Congerton designed a great programme – it contained most of what it needed to for the audience and also to qualify for entry into the NODA London Programme Awards so do send it in to Paul Holgate – details on the NODA London website. BUT, why not list the musical numbers?
Ruth Corner and Liz Peskin did their usual excellent job on the costumes. I particularly admired the Dame’s variety of outfits. To me, the Dame, well played here by Simon Patterson, just has to wear several outrageous oufits and these certainly fitted the bill.
Also, I congratulate Eleanor and Sophie Patterson on the make up- again especially the Dame’s.
My usual plea to the ensemble, please, please smile and look happy, especially in the opening number, as it always seems to energise the audience. Yes, of course Billy Bones (Tom Webster) was the exception here as he was supposed to look depressed.
I was aware that one or two of the cast struggled with some of the musical numbers – it may have been down to the fact that I think a few of you were suffering from the current cold bug which seems to be everywhere at the moment. Why not try speaking it if you can’t reach the right notes? Just a thought, Rex Harrison, for one, got away with it in My Fair Lady after all.
Principal Boy, Matilda Patterson as Jim Hawkins, looked right and developed a good thigh slapping persona.
Opposite her, Amelia Savage as Jenny Trelawney, gave us a pretty Principal Girl but, Amelia, slow up your speech a tad please as you have a tendency to speed up. I would have liked a little more reactions from you to unfolding events – you were very good when you were at the forefront, but do remember that the audience is still aware of your character when the focus is elsewhere.
All good pantos need a Dame of course – traditionally played by a man and Simon Patterson certainly did the role of Mrs Hawkins justice. You developed a good rapport with the audience from the start too.
A nice bumbling performance as our heroine’s father, Squire Trelawney from Martin Sutton too.
Villain of the piece, Long John Silver, was well played by Peter Heaps to traditional boos and hisses from the audience.
I always think that pantomime needs well written parts for the comedians and excellent actors to play the roles. You certainly had that with Lucy Shirley and Steve Mark as Seadog Sam and Seaweed Willy. Your timing was always impeccable and your performance lifted the entire show. Very well done to both of you. At the walkdown I noted that you got the most applause – which was very well deserved.
The assorted Pirates, Tina Barclay, Charlie Merritt, Finn Toomey, and the members of the WI turned pirate, Tamsin Grayling, Yvonne Tobutt, Cathy Davidoff (also a nice cameo performance as Kitty), Sue Dorman, Liz Peskin and Mith Kanagarajah, all performed with great aplomb and maintained their two characterisations well. The opening of Act 2 was especially excellent
What can I say about Ruth Corner’s Polly the Parrot? A great sense of comedy timing here Ruth – a lovely performance.
Making a comparatively brief appearance was Steve Turner as Ben Gunn – a nice performance Steve.
I noticed that your programme mentioned that 2023 is your 75th Year. Congratulations on providing a consistently high level of varied entertainment. I would like to suggest that you invite our London Councillor as well as our NODA National President to a production next year. Also, don’t forget our NODA Long Service Awards which one of them could present – I know you have several members who deserve them! On top of all that, don’t forget the Society Nominated Awards next June. I will be sending details of how you can nominate members nearer the time.
Thank you again and a very Happy Christmas and a good New Year to you all and may your next production go well.
Districts 11 and 11A Rep NODA London