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Kidnapped – Greenwich Theatre (Review)

Review by Shanna Schreuder

TRANSPORTING Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novel Kidnapped to the stage may seem like a mean feat, but it’s one that Ivan Wilkinson has successfully achieved.

With a cast of only five actors, director Anna Fox has brought Wilkinson’s script to life to share this riveting story, set in 18th Century Scotland, to life for audiences of all ages.

The tale starts with the young David Balfour as he is left at the mercy of his heartless uncle, Ebenezer Balfour, when he finds himself an orphan at the age of 17. After attempting to kill his nephew to prevent him from getting his hands on the inheritance, Ebenezer arranges for David to be held prisoner onboard a ship that’s bound for the Americas.

After a couple of weeks at sea, just off the coast of Scotland, the ship collides with a small boat carrying Allen Breck, the infamous Highland rebel and Jacobite. Although David is a Lowlander and an ally to Breck’s enemies, they form a union to fight the ship’s crew allowing them to return to their native land where they end up continuing their adventure together across the unforgiving Scottish landscape.

Stewart McCheyne as David Balfour is wide-eyed innocence from start to finish, which helps to amplify Simon Weir’s maverick and cavalier Allen Breck.

Jamie Laird, as the adult David Balfour, conveys the experience of age through his warm and charismatic manner of storytelling. The female and male ensembles are created by Lesely Cook and Christopher Anderton, who both bring a dynamic charge to each of the characters they portray.

With such a strong and versatile cast, it seemed a shame and somewhat unnecessary to include the occasional puppet to depict minor characters.

Instead, the actors could have easily donned a wig or cloak and pretended to be the few minor players. However, this is such an insignificant point that it in no way detracts from the overall production.

Kidnapped is the ideal show for the whole family to enjoy.

Editor’s note: Kidnapped runs from April 7 to April 9, 2014, and has free educational workshops for school groups attending a performance. For more information on workshops and outreach work please call Naomi on 020 3355 8567.