Every Christmas season, British celebrants mark the holiday with a theatrical blend of slapstick humor, pop songs, cross-dressing and topical jokes—all imposed on a tale that every schoolchild would recognize.
Although viewers from outside Britain may be unfamiliar with the Christmas pantomime, they’re sure to enjoy the Phnom Penh Players’ production of “Treasure Island,” which opens tonight at the Russian Cultural Center.
But those expecting a straightforward retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s epic adventure on the high seas should know of this pantomime’s unique twists.
The original “Treasure Island” tells the story of a resourceful Scottish youth, Jim Hawkins, who comes across a map for lost treasure in the Caribbean and—with the help of more-experienced adults—initiates an expedition. Unwittingly, Hawkins befriends Long John Silver, a cutthroat pirate who recruits his crew as henchmen in a scheme to seize the treasure.
In this version, written by the Phnom Penh Players’ own Peter Buckley, Hawkins (Alice Levisy) is barely able to walk without tripping. And the girl of his dreams, Sybil Trelawney (Lisa Button), is the real force behind the treasure hunt.
The group’s commander, Captain Smellitt (Buckley), who has no credentials save a correspondence course in seamanship, is hopelessly smitten with Lisa’s garrulous mother, Dame Trelawney (Dindo Divinagracia).
This ensemble faces a pint-sized Long John Silver (Mark Parr) and his band of underage brigands, who somehow succeed in striking terror into all they meet.
In Buckley’s script, under the direction of Alan Morgan, no opportunity for a joke or a song is passed up. Adults will appreciate the double entendres and references to local events, while younger viewers are bound to enjoy the physical humor.
Performances will run tonight and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 a person with a $5 discount to NGOs.
, are available at Apsara, Bliss, Eureka Travel, Red, The London Bookstore, Tom’s Irish Bar and the Foreign Correspondents Club.