Robert Louis Stevenson’s
It was clear from the outset that things were going to be lively: the cast are seasoned pub performers and know how to cut through the chatter and command attention. Kicking things off with shouting, singing, mime, and swift character switches, Half Cut create their particular blend of theatrical magic without any decorative distractions – it’s all in the performance.
We were treated to a superbly self-absorbed Squire Trelawney and eager, energetic Jim Hawkins – possibly the only two of the cast to stay with one character. Long John Silver was fantastically foul and ferocious – but also equipped with a wonderfully dry wit. Ben Gunn as a cheese-obsessed nerd, hiding away on
Putting on a show is what Half Cut are all about, and it’s worth noting that this cast is equipped with the kind of vocal power you’d expect in the packed auditoriums of the
Whilst the play takes place in and around the audience as well as on stage, audience participation was more of an occasional aside than a constant theme, which I felt worked really well by keeping our focus on the performers and avoiding the awkward ‘who will get picked on next’ feeling that sometimes accompanies informal theatre. However, in non-Covid times I imagine there would have been a lot more swashbuckling singing and table-thumping from us (I did break into a quiet murmur of Shallow Brown at the end!).
There was one memorable and brilliant moment from a very young audience member: in the dramatic silence after the defeat of a (moderately) vicious pirate, a nearby toddler announced: ‘uh oh!’. Perfect proof that noisy sing-songs and parrot-prancing work just as well if you’re too little to follow the full story, and for me, symbolic of the spirit of Half Cut’s approach. This is theatre for everyone, performed with great gusto, and however well you think you know a classic tale, Half Cut will give you something to treasure.