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Quirky production reinvents Treasure Island for a young audience

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 06, 2013

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Some classic stories are finding new life in a flurry of Christmas cheer to entertain family audiences. Quirk Theatre, renowned for their annual alternatives to the big-scale pantomimes, have this year set their sights on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island adventure, twisting and turning it into their very own show about pirates and plunder – Ahoy there!

It is 1953 and wartime sugar rationing has finally ended. Jess Hawkins and her gang, dreaming of gobstoppers and pineapple chunks, slip into old Mr Jenks' garden, just like they do every afternoon after school.

Jenks has never caught them… not until today, that is.

Mr Jenks is a gardener… but he is also a pirate! Threatening them with the Black Spot, he takes them on a wild adventure on the high seas, meeting bloodthirsty Black Dog, mad Ben Gunn and the infamous one-legged pirate, Long John Silver.

Before long, Jess and her gang don't know if they are in a 1950s garden or on an uncharted desert island where X marks the spot.

It's a joyful show for everyone who loves the original tale, other legends of the deep, and young novices not yet exposed to the realm of pirates... or, indeed, live theatrical performance.

"At Quirk we make theatre for children. We believe that this is a serious process and should be undertaken with a clear understanding of the audience. We write and devise the script, create original music and make the set and props," says Quirk co-founder Simon Hall.

"We believe that strong storytelling and honesty in performance underpin good theatre.

"This doesn't mean that our shows aren't a good lark, but it does mean that we want to make something that will endure in children's memories, creating a love of theatre that should last a lifetime."

Simon trained at The Hub Theatre School in Cornwall and went on to perform for ten years with Miracle Theatre, touring inside and open air shows across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

He moved to Exeter, where he formed Quirk Theatre with Andy Brodie, toured the world as part of the infamous Rhythm Doctors show band and in comedy cabaret duo Slim and Slam.

He has composed music for both theatre and contemporary dance, acted in productions by Kneehigh and Miracle Theatre and has directed the last five Quirk shows.

Treasure Island runs at Exeter Phoenix until January 4. The show is recommended for adventurers aged five and over.

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