Here we are at the Admiral Benbow, the inn where young Jim Hawkins encounters Billy Bones and Blind Pew in Treasure Island. You might detect some echoes of last year’s Dame Dibble’s Dairy from Jack and the Beanstalk, in my sketch; this is because of my habit of recycling backdrops. Instead of starting the scene afresh, I’ve converted the half-timbered exterior of the dairy into the half-timbered interior of the inn.
This gave us time to flip the flats around this afternoon to quickly convert the sky blue scene of Jack’s Cloudland Castle into a tropical Treasure Island with palm trees, dunes and smouldering volcano (a detail that I don’t recall in the Robert Louis Stevenson original).
The first big production of the Horbury Pageant Players that I got involved in was Treasure Island, in 1967, but that was in the days when the Pageants prided themselves on never doing pantomimes so the scripts we used were on loan to us from the Mermaid Theatre, where Bernard Miles’ production had been a great success. In that version, comic genius Spike Milligan played Ben Gunn, the castaway with a fondness for cheese.
In our 1967 version, my younger brother Bill played the pirate who took Jim Hawkins’ kit on board the Hispaniola. Bill told me that one of the scripts had weird figures doodled all over it.
I never saw this script and all the whole batch were returned to the Mermaid after the production but I’m convinced that must have been Milligan’s script, annotated in characteristic style by him during rehearsals.
It would be a small treasure of Milligana if it had survived!