Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Marty Ross – adaptation (Narrated by Philip Glenister, Daniel Mays, Catherine Tate, Owen Teale)

There have been a lot of classics getting a modern resurgence in popularity. Not sure why, but it has been good to see. My favorite thing about them is that for the most part, the modern adaptations of classic stories adhere as much as possible to the original text, but bring a bit more modern language into it. While this can sometimes mean our renewed vision of a text can reveal that we overlooked some problematic or troubling parts (looking at you La Morte D’ Arthor), it can also mean what we’ve assumed is the story for so long is actually quite different.

Treasure island is one of those stories that I think everyone thinks they know at least some part of. Whether it is the pirate captain trying to cheat their crew, or the young and plucky lad who outsmarts the pirates, or even just that there is a story involving pirates and buried treasure. This is due, in no small part, to the myriad examples of stories, movies, TV shows, etc. that use this particular work as a foundation. Now, I want it clear, that I don’t fault them for their retelling or dislike most of the new variations. While they borrow heavily from the original idea, they are still their own story and can stand on their own.

When this popped up on my feed as a new adaptation with an ensemble cast of narrators (hello Catherine Tate!) I thought I’d give yet another classic a chance to tell me their story again. And I’m equally happy and confused that I did.

Happy, because this is a fantastic retelling with just enough details of atmosphere, accents, terminology, and cadence to give an authentic to the period experience. The adaptation showed it brought in language applicable to our lexicon today as opposed to the one used by Stevenson himself in the late 1850’s Scotland. Not that it is as different as medieval texts to today or even Shakespeare to today, but there’s just enough difference in the original that having a slight smoothing of the language really helped.

I was confused because, and this is going to be hard for some of you to fathom, the Muppets were the best, modern adaption. Yes, the Muppets. The one with Tim Curry and Billy Connolly. I know, I know… I was surprised, too. But, hear me out, of the modern retellings they were by far the most faithful to this original text. Did not see that coming. I am a Muppet fan for life so while it was a surprise, I’m glad to acknowledge it.

The cast of characters portrayed by the ensemble is diverse, fun, whimsical, diabolical, treacherous, and thrilling. Each brings their own voice to the characters giving the text the depth required. This will be a fun re-listen for some time and one I will gladly recommend to those looking to re-connect with classic stories.

Book Description:

Audible Originals takes to the high seas to bring you a timeless and thrilling tale of pirates, lost treasure maps, and mutiny, with a stellar cast that includes BAFTA-nominated Catherine Tate (The Office–US, Doctor Who), Philip Glenister (Outcast, Life On Mars–UK), Owen Teale (Game of Thrones), and Daniel Mays (Rogue One, Atonement). Our team in London has modernized and re-imagined Stevenson’s classic coming-of-age adventure story for the entire family.

Young innkeeper Jim Hawkins thought he had seen his fair share of characters until old sailor Billy Bones arrives at the inn. When Bones dies mysteriously, Jim stumbles across a treasure map leading to a stash of buried pirate gold, and a wild adventure begins. Jim is thrown into a world of treachery, mutiny, castaways, and murder. At the center of it all is the sinister Long John Silver, who will stop at nothing to grab the loot. One of the best-loved adventure stories ever written, Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1881 tale introduces listeners to Long John Silver, forever associating peg-legged pirates with “X marks the spot” in popular culture.

This audio adventure was created by Marty Ross. Marty dubbed the Glaswegian master of radio horror by the BBC, is the author of a number of radio and audio dramas, including the popular BBC series Ghost Zone and Catch My Breath. His other credits include audio dramas based on Doctor Who and Dark Shadows for Big Finish and several plays for the Wireless Theatre Company. He created a series of grand scale audio dramas for Audible, ranging from radically contemporary re-imaginings of Shakespeare (Romeo and Jude) to his Audie-nominated adaptation of Treasure Island and two volumes of Arabian Nights dramatizations. Ross also performs his own work as a live-theater storyteller.

by Marty Ross, Robert Louis Stevenson
Narrator: Catherine Tate, Daniel Mays, Owen Teale, Philip Glenister
Published by Audible Studios Genres: Adventure

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