National Theater At Home: Treasure Island

In response to the closing of theaters in the U.K., the Royal National Theater in London is showing seven of their plays online.

We’ve been watching them and the first two shows, One Man, Two Guvnors and Jane Eyre were kind of duds, we thought.

However, last night we watched Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of pirates, mutiny, and treasure and it was entertaining. But we were blown away by the set. This is a challenging show for a set designer, to say the least. She had to provide sets that included a wharf, a tavern, a boarding house, a sailing ship, an island, subterranean tunnels, and more.

This was beautifully accomplished using a giant “turntable” platform. This is usually a rotating platform set into the stage floor, but in this show it was more than that. I read that the National Theater staff calls it a “drum revolve” and it really is more of a cylinder than just a platform.

Early in the show, set elements magically rise out of it and later sink back into it, including a substantial mast and multiple ship decks.

Then, later in the play, the entire turntable itself rises out of the stage floor to provide the subterranean tunnels setting. Wonderful physical effect!

There are also some great lighting effects, including a display of the constellations in the night sky above the set.

Treasure Island will air on YouTube until April 23rd, so see it now if you’re interested. Information can be found here:

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