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The Audible dramatization of Treasure Island is excellent, with only a few false steps. Owen Teale is great as Silver, with his combination of flattery and ruthlessness. (I would have expected no less of Alliser Thorne.) But that points to one of the false steps here: the cast is named but not the parts they play; I was able to confirm that Teale was Silver only by locating a press release online. That seems a little ungenerous to my way of thinking.
For the record: besides Teale, Philip Glenister is Dr Livesey; Daniel Mays is Ben Gunn; Catherine Tate is Jim's mother. And who among the named cast plays Jim Hawkins, who with his narration has by far the most audio time? No idea. Even Audible'a promotional video doesn't mention him.
Another false step is that there are long gaps of silence between scenes. It's not unusual for an audio play to observe a moment of silence to mark a transition. But here, the gaps between scenes last several seconds; a couple of times I wondered if I'd gone into sleep mode by mistake. These gaps seem tailor-made for some linking music to be added in post-production, but there isn't any. It affects the pace. The gaps seem to slow things down. (There IS music from time to time, usually to set a somber or threatening tone.)
It's a subdued production: a quiet, gritty Treasure Island, one that avoids flashy swashing and buckling in favor of soft and sinister exchanges. And it's a reflective adaptation: with the help of a few lines and a couple of scenes not in the book, it creates a much stronger sense of moral ambiguity than in the book. The Jim Hawkins who returns from the voyage is a very different person than the boy who left, and the difference is bittersweet and satisfying.
In general the production adheres closely to the events of the book — including lots of narration from Jim Hawkins — but it does make some changes. Some scenes are expanded with additional dialogue to good effect (Israel Hands is given a chance to shine, as is Silver's parrot); other changes are apparently made just for the sake of change. Abraham Gray, a brave and honest seaman in the book, is presented here as a sniveling coward.
But despite its subdued tone, and a few changes I found jarring, I found it a compelling listen, one that drew me in by its quiet intensity rather than histrionics. I put that down to the excellence of the cast and the sound design. It's an oddly intimate version of an action-packed adventure.
A version of Treasure Island stands or falls by its Long John Silver and its Jim Hawkins. Both are excellent here: multifaceted and multilayered. And they are given a "necessary scene" at the end that is missing from the book; it's a scene that appears in several film versions of the story, but here it's given straight, without a trace of sentimentality.
The producers have given themselves (and the writer) enough runtime to develop the story much more fully than is usually the case. I enjoyed it a lot, and I recommend it.
87 of 89 people found this review helpful
This was exciting and well-acted, and then they changed the end totally unnecessarily. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of my favorite rollicking sea story, but the mysteriously changed the end to make what appeared to be a social commentary. I would have given 5 stars easily if they had left Jim to his riches and hatred of the sea. AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY
78 of 81 people found this review helpful
The story itself reads like the blueprint for all swashbuckling pirate adventures. The brilliantly original characters are brought to life by equally excellent voice actors accompanied by delicious sound effects of the sea and the strange atmosphere of the mysterious treasure island. I was swept along by the many twists and turns of the plot and the gruff tones of the pirates that are intertwined in them.
This is exactly how dramatisations should be executed.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Thoroughly enjoyed this version of Treasure Island. Faithful to the book but with enough dramatic licence to keep it original and entertaining and helped even further by a wonderful cast. Superb.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
There’s much more to this rollicking tale than I remembered. Well worth revisiting. Loved it
Skips the old language by putting it in play form. Easily accessible and a great form of the original story.