AFTER just a few moments of Cloverleaf Productions presentation of Treasure Island – the panto, it was clear that the array of trophies in the foyer were well deserved.

This was a panto that producer Ros Roderigo was determined to stage.

The author Richard Lloyd, had the novel idea of building a panto round a free-wheeling treatment of the book and it worked very well thanks to ingenuity of Cloverleaf’s production team and the rollicking spirit of an enthusiastic cast.

Even reading the cast-list with its silly names started the fun. Blind Puke, Israel Feet, Dr. Liversausage and Captain Smellit had their roots in R.L.Stevenson's much-loved tale.

In a daring departure from tradition, Principal Girl Nancy played by Ellie Nex, as bright as a new pin and plucky with it, and Kelly Boyland as Jim Ladd, a strong and purposeful Principal Boy as ever graced the Admirable Bimbo Inn, actually desert each other for other lovers.

There’s modern for you. She belongs to the upper class, he to the deserving poor.

Her father is filthy rich Squire Polperro, foppishly played by John Attree, lording it something rotten over Louise Knight and Ruby Nex as his over-worked and hard done by lackeys Bodmin and Newquay.

The witty script by Richard Lloyd moved at a smart pace helped by the charms of both Dave Goodall as the venerable overdressed dame, Mrs Ladd, and the darkly evil but charming rogue, Long John Slither – a character made for Bob Dunn, with his expertly crafted peg leg.

Action swiftly moved from Bristol Docks towards Treasure Island aboard The Grand Pianola, captained by Martin Wale as Captain Smellit.

The costumes were lavish and colourful, none more so than the amazing parrot outfit worn by David Stares, and the Junior chorus gave us some spirited singing and dancing as villagers and scary pirates.

There were some splendid characterisations amongst the adult pirates, with Richard Roderigo celebrating 56 years on stage as Israel Feet - a role that could have been written especially for him.

The audience was spellbound as the plot unfolded and the disappearance of the dame into the deep had many confounded. 

The following pursuit of Mrs Ladd and Nancy around the Village Hall was great fun and effectively covered the necessary scene change from sea to land.

Here Euro-insults were traded over the stockade between the English toffs Squire Polperro and Dr. Liversausage (Clive Smith) and the Spanish Don Iguana (Neil Lane) and even the intervention of the lovely Donna Estella (Maggy Goodall) could not solve the international dispute.

It wasn't long before the young lovers Jim Ladd and Nancy decided there were more intriguing liaisons to be had.

Jim was soon enthralled by Doña Estella's wiles - all red satin, mantilla and passion.

Nancy chose the swashbuckling Don Iguana and, although her father was mollified at the promised pesetas, he was still glad the Brits had sunk their "Armadillo".

Thanks to Bertha Gunn - a fine comic performance in a ludicrous wig and West Country accent from Sally Nex - it transpired that Captain Squint's buried treasure was nothing more than gold-wrapped chocolate coins.

With backing provided by Philip Lloyd and Graham Tinson, the music was brilliant throughout – with a good mix of popular, nautical and show tunes superbly performed by both soloists and chorus.

A less accomplished company might have struggled with this witty but wordy script, but Cloverleaf members have both talent and experience to keep the production moving and the audience enthralled.

Nathan Smale