“AYE, aye Jem lass” might not have quite the same ring to it as the more traditional “Jim lad” but then Coronation Street regular writer Debbie Oates worries little about offending Robert Louis Stevenson purists with her highly amusing adaptation of this time honoured tale.
“They can’t be real pirates – in Morecambe!” gasps Jemima Hawkins – played with delightful wide eyed impishness by the ever impressive Nisa Cole - as she embarks on the adventure of her life.
But it’s family fun time after all so even the hoodie carol singers and a Long John Silver straight from the annals of Monty Python (“I’m unarmed – and not an abundance of legs in truth” deadpans Ali Watt, clearly revelling in being the least frightening pirate ever to sail the seven seas) play it for laughs.
This theatre long ago turned its back on traditional festive fare in favour of more adventurous productions and this season it has even handed its end stage auditorium to a film programme and taken up residence in its more intimate studio theatre space instead.
Presenting this time honoured tale in the round makes perfect sense given the boat and island settings so central to it.
Oates uses accessible language to shift the story to the sands of Morecambe Bay with plenty of local references and accents to put even the youngest audience members at ease with what was originally quite a nail biting story most of the time.
Jim’s not the only character to have a sex change – there’s even equality in the world of piracy with Ann Marcuson impressive as the slimmest Captain Molly Hands ever seen when she’s not doubling as Ben Gunn.
Throw in the strangest ship’s cat in history, a scene stealing streetwise puppet parrot, catchy singalong songs by Carol Donaldson and a talented hard working supporting cast of all-rounders and director Joe Sumsion has come up with another welcome slice of fast moving relief from familiar festive fare.
It runs until January 5.