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Theatre / Treasure Island (2014)

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The National Theatre's 2014 stage adaptation of Treasure Island starred Arthur Darvill as Long John Silver and Patsy Ferran as Jemima "Jim" Hawkins. It was adapted by Bryony Lavery from the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, and directed by Polly Findlay. It ran from December 2014 to April 2015.

Like many of the National Theatre's productions it was recorded as part of the National Theatre Live streaming service.

This work contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Comic Relief: All the pirates are made somewhat comic figures, though they do have their menacing moments as well. Israel Hands is an extreme case; a significant antagonist in the novel, in the stage version he's an entirely comic figure (played by a professional clown) whose most notable achievement is blowing himself up in a gunpowder accident.
  • Adaptational Diversity: This adaptation has a very diverse cast, with a range of ethnicities represented, an expanded selection of disabilities among the pirates and sailors, and a lot more female characters. (The original novel has only one female character with any lines, Jim's mother. This version comes close to gender parity.)
  • Adapted Out: Mr Arrow, the first mate.
  • Age Lift:
    • The proprietor of the Admiral Benbow Inn is significantly older (and is Jim's grandmother instead of mother).
    • On the other hand, Ben Gunn is much younger, being near Jim's age (it's said that he was Captain Flint's cabin boy before he was stranded).
  • The Aloner: Ben Gunn has been alone on the island for three years, and it hasn't done his mental equilibrium any favors.
  • Black Spot: Presented to Billy Bones by Blind Pew.
  • The Cabin Boy: Jim, although strictly speaking, she's a Cabin Girl. Also, Ben Gunn was Flint's cabin boy.
  • Character Exaggeration: Squire Trelawney goes from being a bit clueless to a full-on Upper-Class Twit.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Israel Hands, a male pirate, is played by female clown Angela de Castro.
  • Death by Adaptation: All the pirates die, including the ones who survive in the novel; some are killed along the way and most, including Silver, are caught by a cave-in in the cave where the treasure is hidden. By that point, the pirates have killed many of the loyal crew members, again including some who survived in the novel. (The production rather glosses over the question of who sailed the ship home again.)
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the novel, Blind Pew is abandoned by his fellow pirates and stumbles unknowingly to his death. In this version, one of the other pirates impales him with his own cane before fleeing.
    • In the novel, Jim is forced to kill Israel Hands in self defense. In this version, Hands becomes a Self-Disposing Villain.
  • Does Not Speak Common: Hands is from South America and apparently speaks no English, instead chattering incomprehensibly in a foreign language. In his final scene, he reveals to Jim that he can speak fluent English, but considers it a "very ugly language" and prefers not to use it unless he has to.
  • Dream Reality Check: Played with; when Ben Gunn first meets Jim, he pinches her to see if she's really there. She takes it fairly well; Captain Smollett less so when Ben does the same to him.
  • Dressed to Plunder: When Long John Silver reveals that he's a mutinous pirate, he makes a costume change into a much more piratical look; braided hair, brimmed hat, and a colourful coat.
  • Forgettable Character: It's a Running Gag that the quiet and emotionless seaman Gray is utterly forgettable and always being overlooked. To the point that when the loyal crew are rounded up by the pirates, they forget to tie him up — but the rest of the crew stay tied up for hours because none of them notice he's free either.
  • Gender Flip: Jim Hawkins is a tomboyish girl whose full name is mentioned at one point to be Jemima. Dr Livesey and several of the ship's crew are also female.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Long John Silver and the Walrus Crew upon finding Flint's treasure.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During one of the fights on the island.
  • Hearing Voices: Billy Bones mentions hearing incessant voices singing pirate shanties, and tries to drown them out with booze and at one point by holding everyone in the inn at gunpoint and ordering them to sing louder than the voices in his head.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Apart from the competent and honest Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney does really badly with his choice of crew. He trusts Long John Silver immediately and fails to spot anything wrong with any of the obviously-evil characters Silver suggests as crew members. The ones he hires before he meets Silver are not evil but are all pretty useless (apart from Gray, who seems unlikely but turns out to have hidden qualities).
  • Leave No Witnesses: Captain Flint took six crewmen with him to bury the treasure, then killed them all (except Ben Gunn, who escaped but was left on the island to die slowly).
  • The Mutiny: Silver and his fellow pirates intend to mutiny once they've secured the treasure, or at least the treasure map. The mutiny kicks off early when Silver realizes that Jim has learned of their plans.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Toward the end of the play, Silver persuades Jim that her friends have abandoned her and she should throw in with the pirates. She does, and helps them decipher the instructions for finding the treasure. However, when Silver tells her to start thinking about what she can buy for herself and her grandmother with her share of the treasure, she realizes that her grandmother would be rightly unhappy with her for becoming a pirate, and switches firmly back to the side of good.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Near the end, after the pirates are dealt with, Squire Trelawney starts a speech about how, since the ship has gone missing, they're all going to have to get used to being stuck on the island and learn how to farm and so on, and brushes Jim off several times before she's able to explain that she was the one who hid the ship and can show them where it is.
  • Pirate Booty: Flint's treasure.
  • Pirate Parrot: Long John Silver's pet parrot, Captain Flint, is specifically a blue-and-yellow macaw.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • Blind Pew is stabbed to death, which is easier to stage than being trampled to death by a horse.
    • Long John Silver only displays his missing leg in full on his first appearance. Before boarding ship for the voyage, he acquires a metal prosthetic leg that he wears for the rest of the story, avoiding the need to keep the actor's leg out of sight for the full two-hour show.
  • The Reveal: There's a small one at the end of the scene where Squire Trelawney is hiring crew for the voyage. A man seated nearby engages him in conversation, offers advice on who to hire, and ends up signing on himself as the ship's cook. At the end of the scene, the departing Trelawney asks his new friend's name, and the man twitches aside the cloak that was covering his legs, revealing a deficiency in that area, pulls a crutch from under his seat, and introduces himself: Long John Silver.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: While Jim is trying to figure out how to wrest control of the ship from him, Israel Hands lights his pipe and casually throws away the match. He happens to be sitting near the ship's gunpowder store... and that's the last we see of Israel Hands.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Long John Silver, who coldly and calmly tells his crew cruel orders including "Drown him.", "Shoot the girl." and "Don't break anything but her."
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • After Jim overhears the pirates plotting mutiny and reports it to Captain Smollett, Smollett nearly manages to maneuver the would-be mutineers into going ashore where they can be threatened with marooning, until Jim makes a comment about Long John Silver having been on the island before and Silver recalls that he's been careful never to mention that fact except to his fellow mutineers, realizing that this means Jim heard their conversation.
    • Near the end, Trelawney tries to bluff the pirates by pretending to be the ghostly voice of the late Captain Flint. Armed with details about them supplied by Ben Gunn, he nearly pulls it off until Silver gets suspicious because "Flint" also knows the name of a mutineer who threw in with the pirates on this voyage and was never part of Flint's crew.
  • Stargazing Scene: Between Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Israel Hands spends most of the play chattering incomprehensibly in a foreign language. In his final scene, he suddenly switches to fluent English to explain something to Jim. When a stunned Jim asks, "You speak English?", he replies, "Only when I have to. Very ugly language."
  • Talking to Themself: Ben Gunn holds several spirited conversations with himself, which he explains to Jim is a result of having had nobody else to talk to for all these years.
  • Tomboyish Name: Jim Hawkins. Her full name is Jemima.
  • Translation by Volume: In one scene, Jim attempts to explain something to Hands, a South American pirate who apparently speaks no English. She makes several attempts, each one louder, slower, with more simplified syntax and more hand gestures.
  • Treasure Map: The map, with cryptic instructions written on the back, that Jim finds in Billy Bones's sea chest.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Squire Trelawney.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Silver's parrot, Captain Flint, named after his former captain.