A Christmas Treasure Island cast interview, featuring Annabel Betts, Nicolas Goode, Laurie Jamieson, Jack Lord, Jessica Murrain, Shannon Rewcroft and Louise Shuttleworth.
Who do you play in A Christmas Treasure Island?
Annabel: I play Jem Hawkins. She’s a twelve-year-old girl on an adventure, finding the strength within herself to fight pirates along the way. She goes from an attic in her house in Withernsea (with her mum and dad and big brother) to sailing a ship by herself to the North Pole. I’m not sure life will be the same for her after visiting the Treasure Island.
Jack: Uncle David – he’s Jem’s uncle, an explorer and an adventurer. He also has the map he and Jem use to find the buried treasure.
Laurie: I play Long John Silver! He’s probably the coolest pirate ever, and he’s the best swordfighter in the world. I was a knitting Nanna in Sleeping Beauty at Hull Truck Theatre last year, so playing Long John Silver is going to be a very different experience.
Jessica: I play Mum and a pirate called George Merry. Mum is a loving and strong woman, but she has a lot on her mind. Merry is a goon (with a warm heart, I suspect).
Nick: I pay Dad and Pirate Morgan, who forms a silly double-act with George Merry.
Shannon: I’m puppeteering the beautiful animal characters, handmade by puppet designer John Barber. There’s a parrot, cat and pirate – adorable characters the audience are going to fall in love with.
Lou: I’m playing the slightly mad Captain Molly, who has an unusually large appetite, and the slightly more mad, marooned Ben Gunn.
Some of you have been in Hull Truck Theatre Christmas productions before. Why have you come back this year?
Annabel: Hull is such a great place to work at Christmas. The audiences are always enthusiastic and responsive, which makes our job so much fun. It’s very easy to feel Christmassy in Hull. For some of us, it’s our third Christmas here – we started with Cinderella in 2014, and now it feels like a little family.
Laurie: It’s the people that makes the city so special. Everyone is friendly and down to earth, which means it’s the perfect place to spend the festive season.
Lou: All the Hull Truck Theatre staff give us such a warm welcome and work really hard to make the shows a success. Plus, I like the rioja they serve front of house…
Nick: I totally agree with these three. Hull is such a welcoming place to be, especially at Christmas. And who would turn down the chance to be a pirate?
What is your favourite thing about Hull?
Lou: I fell in love with Hull when I first came here in 2014 to play the evil stepmother in Cinderella. I then returned last Christmas to play Nanna Worrywart in Sleeping Beauty. We visited so many bars, pubs and restaurants that it’s hard to single one out, although I do remember several lovely evenings at the Minerva pub on the waterfront, and many delicious meals at The Persian restaurant on Princes Avenue. I was also taken out to 1884, where we had a stunning meal. The waterfront is so beautiful, and the Old Town has a fantastic atmosphere. But the thing I like the most about Hull is the feeling of being in a small, friendly village whilst enjoying all the benefits of being in a vibrant, busy city.
Annabel: Hull is buzzing with creativity and culture – I enjoy spending evenings in pubs in the Old Town, or afternoons in cafes on Newland Avenue. I love Thieving Harry’s for the burgers – although they need to bring back the pig jam! I also like going to see Middle Child Theatre and their quiz at Fruit. It’s such an independent city. There are loads of family-run shops, restaurants and cafes; because of that, there’s a vibrant community spirit.
Jessica: I’m new to the city, so I’m looking forward to exploring. As an actor, it can be difficult to acclimatise to a new place as we travel around so much. I think it’s important to get to know what makes a city and its people tick. I’ve heard fantastic things about Hull – it’s an exciting time to be here just before the City of Culture celebrations kick off.
What excites you about A Christmas Treasure Island?
Shannon: It’s a Christmas show with a pirate twist, and I don’t think twists get much better than that. It’s an adventure-filled story with some hilarious dialogue, and it’s also set in Yorkshire, so it’s a win-win for me.
Laurie: I think the best thing about A Christmas Treasure Island is the character of Jem Hawkins. She’s a feisty and adventurous girl, with a huge imagination and a lot of guts. And because there are pirates, there are sword fights, which are always exciting to perform on stage.
Lou: It’s a swashbuckling adventure, full of twists and turns (some that might even surprise those who’ve read the novel). Not only that, but it all begins in Hull. And the music in the production is fantastic. It’s all been written by composer John Biddle, using lyrics from the script. We play the instruments ourselves, and sing all the songs, which makes it feel extra special.
Annabel: It feels like Treasure Island crossed with The Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan. Jem sort of collects characters along the way, including ones she’d rather get rid of!
What would you take with you on a trip to the frozen north?
Shannon: I’d take some really hot gravy to keep myself warm. I’d also take my penguin dressing gown and slippers, a flask of Yorkshire tea. If I could sneak my family to come with me, that would be amazing.
Jack: A solar-powered hot tub so I could have a lovely chilled out steam with a hot toddy, looking out at the Northern Lights.
Annabel: I’d take a hot water bottle full of hot chocolate, and a polar bear onesie. It would be important to have some creature comforts to remind me of home and to keep me cosy on the journey. I’d also take some bravery and determination, just like Jem.
Jessica: My good friend Nics, as she’s the perfect travelling bud. Maybe a decent pair of long johns as well… John Long Silver’s to keep my legs warm!
If you had a treasure chest, what would you hide inside it?
Nick: All the important things – my passport, birth certificate, and embarrassing photos of me I don’t want anyone else to see.
Shannon: I have a ring that my grandad gave me for my 18th birthday. It’s my most precious possession, so that would go straight in there. And then possibly some chocolate, which no one else could steal.
Annabel: Everything I’d need for an adventure with pirates: toothpaste and shower gel, a towel, slippers and a box of Jaffa cakes. I’d hide it all from the pirates who would definitely forget their own toothpaste.
Jack: I’d hide all my gold and jewels, so it would be a very small chest. Non-existent, in fact.
What would you give a pirate for Christmas?
Laurie: A bath!
Jack: Most pirates are naughty, so they would get coal, but perhaps I’d give a fancy eye patch to a pirate who’d been nice all year. Or some varnish to polish their wooden leg. I’d also give them deodorant and lots of toiletries, as they’re all very dirty and smelly.
Jessica: I’d give them some of my Nan’s homemade chocolate caramel squares and a bottle of rum. Even pirates deserve a treat at Christmas.
Annabel: I’d let them have a squeeze of my toothpaste if they were nice.
How would you spend your perfect Christmas?
Shannon: I’d spend it at home in Scarborough with a big Christmas dinner and all my family, just like I have done every year of my life so far. I have lots of younger cousins, and it’s great to see how excited they get about opening presents. I wouldn’t mind a white Christmas to make it extra special. Lots of white snow this Christmas, please, Santa!
Lou: If possible, my advice is to always find at least one child to spend Christmas day with. They bring a contagious, buzzing, festive excitement. Luckily for me, I have two nieces.
Jack: I’d hang out with Santa on his sleigh and help with the deliveries. I’ve always wanted to know how he gets round the world so quickly, and how he gets the reindeer to fly. But then if I knew his secrets, he probably wouldn’t let me go back home, and I’d have to stay as his helper until the end of time…
Jessica: My perfect Christmas would be one where no-one felt lonely, where everyone was well and together… with no hangovers in sight!
And finally… Brussels sprouts – yes or no?
Everyone but Jessica: Yes
Jessica: No, but I’m working on it.
“A Christmas Treasure Island” will be “running” at Hull Truck Theatre between 2nd December and 7th January
Visit www.hulltruck.co.uk for more information and tickets
Kindle user? Download Steve’s first book, “Pulse,” here