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Stage Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Treasure Island After sitting, slack-jawed and seething, through the Alley Theatre's world-premiere adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure novel, you might be tempted to rename it Ken Ludwig's Pirated Tale, or The Alley at Sea or Jim Hawkins in Drag. Whatever you call it, it isn't Treasure Island, and more's the pity. Stevenson's never-fail tale of young Jim on his hazardous voyage among rapacious buccaneers in search of buried treasure rivals Dickens in atmosphere, indelible characters, sweeping language, immediacy and plain old fun. If there ever was a novel that deserves grand theatrical treatment, it's this one. But instead of bracing sea air, the Alley's production gives off an undeniable whiff of dry rot. The whole thing weighs a ton, and the fun's been keelhauled. What happened to Stevenson? Forty lashes to playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Moon over Buffalo) for his ballast-heavy adaptation. He loads on large swaths of his own exposition that becalm the tale or take it way off course. Where Stevenson suggests, Ludwig bludgeons. And whose bright idea was it to have Jim played by a woman? What the hell is this loopy English pantomime doing in Treasure Island? What's next, Dame Edna as Long John Silver? Through June 17. 615 Texas, 713-228-8421. — DLG

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