The official Tim Firth web site

 

a

aNEVILLE'S ISLAND - TIM FIRTH
THE WATERMILL THEATRE
Bagnor, West Berkshire
 
A Comedy in thick fog &
A stage with running water...!
 
Directed by Heather Davies
Designed by Isla Shaw
 

It’s team build weekend at Pennine Spring Water Ltd. Our four heroes are determined to win. As they arrive on an island in the middle of Derwentwater they are sure of success - they are out in front and the other teams are nowhere to be seen!

But are Neville’s map reading skills as good as he thinks? And over breakfast, did Angus spot the hidden clues in the instructions that everyone else missed?

 
a

Team building just does not come into it. The disparate group of middle-aged, middle-management businessmen sent on a weekend initiative test in the Lake District by their Salford water company employers cannot even get their act together sufficiently to take a boat across Derwentwater without sinking it.

Tim Firth’s popular comedy maroons the hapless quartet on a fog shrouded island and most of the laughs - and this is a hugely funny play, sometimes savagely so - stem from the alacrity with which the normal civilities of office life are abandoned to recriminations, bullying, breast-beating and middle-age angst.

As Neville, the self-appointed captain, Robert Benfield is a pompous but likeable bubble of ineffectual wind. Julian Harries, as Roy, bears the beatific smile of a recent convert to religion but we can tell from the stricken look in his eyes he is perilously close to the edge of another breakdown.

The office bully Gordon - a sergeant major-ish Tony Turner - uses the predicament to give full vent to his blistering sarcasm, while miserable Angus (Jonathan Jaynes), agonises over his middle-class lifestyle and precarious marriage.

The shifting pecking order as the foursome wait in vain for a speedy rescue is only occasionally predictable and never fails to amuse, even when events take a distinctly dark turn.

The ensemble playing is exemplary and Dawn Allsopp’s meticulous set is tremendous - totally convincing, from the rocky outcrops, to the real trees, right down to the muddy water lapping the shore.

James Hayward - THE STAGE ONLINE


Some theatres you could imagine having a lake on stage. Large theatres. But the Watermill? Well, they’ve managed it for Neville’s Island. And three of the bedraggled quartet on a disastrous management training course in the Lake District make their entrance through the lake. There’s no slow build-up here, it’s straight into the laughs, and Act One is hilarious from start to finish.

The four are managers from a northern company and Neville, the leader of the team, (Chris Myles) has misread the instructions and shipwrecked them on an island. Gordon (Colin Mace) is the cynical comedian of the crew, Angus (Giles Taylor) is the naïve one, but he’s brought all the survival hardware apart from the kitchen sink. Roy (Alisdair Simpson) is the quiet bird-watching Christian with problems.

In Act Two, the humour is altogether darker, leading to a Lord-of-the-Flies-type climax. Excellent acting and a very funny script make this an evening to enjoy.

Highly recommended.

PAUL SHAVE - KICK FM


 
Previously at
OLDHAM COLISEUM
Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL 1 3BR
 
Directed by Kevin Shaw
Designed by Richard Foxton
 
24th June - 17th July 2004
 
NEVILLE'S ISLAND

CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE
  Click for larger image
Starring
MARTIN REEVE
JAMES NICKERSON
PARVEZ QADIR
CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT
 

 

A comedic exploration of the benefits of the business outward bound course and how relationships can be changed forever by a weekend away in the country…

NEVILLE'S ISLAND

CLICK FOR A LARGER IMAGE

It’s team build weekend at Pennine Spring Water Ltd. Our four heroes are determined to win. As they arrive on an island in the middle of Derwentwater they are sure of success - they are out in front and the other teams are nowhere to be seen!

But are Neville’s map reading skills as good as he thinks? And over breakfast, did Angus spot the hidden clues in the instructions that everyone else missed?

THE STAGE ONLINE

The set is crucial in Tim Firth’s black comedy and designer Richard Foxton and the backstage team at the Oldham Coliseum have triumphed with a realistic island setting, crowned by a bank of trees, which descend into the auditorium. Clever sound and lighting help to create an atmosphere of isolation on the fog-wreathed sanctuary for the four central characters, who struggle ashore when their corporate bonding exercise flounders.

Firth’s award-winning work is truly an ensemble piece, which affords great opportunities for the cast of four. James Nickerson beautifully underplays as jovial and caring Neville, the captain of the team of Salford businessmen from Pennine Water Limited. Parvez Qadir is the gimmick-obsessed Angus, whose rucksack holds many a surprise and Martin Reeve is the bullying Gordon with a temper to match his stubbornness. Christopher Wright makes a fair stab at the challenging role of Roy, whose soul-searching leads him on a journey with dark consequences.

Unfortunately some great one-liners were rather lost either through mumbling or a drop in pace, both of which can be easily rectified. Certainly Kevin Shaw’s production brought gales of appreciative laughter from those in the audience unfamiliar with Firth’s hilarious text and the change in tempo from comedy to near tragedy was clearly sign-posted.

Good though they were, it was not the performances that made a mark but the superb writing skills of Tim Firth which, coupled with Foxton’s imaginative set, were at the forefront of this production.

Natalie Anglesey - THE STAGE ONLINE