Skip to main content

Review of Neville's Island by Tim Firth at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

A works team building away trip could happily paint seven shades of absolute hell on many peoples minds and that is if it goes well. For Neville though and his trio of companions, well doesn't ever come into it in Tim Firth's comedy drama.

Tim Firth is best known for Calendar Girls and it's next musical incarnation currently playing in London, The Girls. However with Neville's Island, things while remaining comic at times, stray into some very dark territories, and that doesn't mean the brooding trees and bushes of the island they find themselves trapped on. The themes here on display range from attacks on religion and to mental illness issues. Not, you would think ideal for a comedy, hence this is a little more drama as well. It works, most of the time. I am sure that on occasion though, some could be uneasy about Gordon's diatribes about Roy's issues and faith, indeed the latter, some would probably find quite offensive.

The first thing you are struck by with The Playhouse's production of Neville's Island is Mark Mortimer's set. A wooden world of intrigue on the little stage, boulders lurking in corner and leaf litter aplenty, it is a remarkable site. The fog machine pumps further atmosphere into the theatre.

The cast of four, while all very familiar with regulars at The Playhouse, are nicely cast, very much suiting their characters. Graham Lee is as Roy, the best I have seen him, a nicely balanced performance, which is especially strong in his calm and nicely delivered lookout monologues. Likewise, Victor Guse gives some depth to his Angus, clearly come prepared for everything with expensive camping gear in abundance. Prepared for everything that is, but Gordon's suggestions of supermarket activity away from the island. Victor does some nice brooding scenes following this, before things turn a little more active. I also enjoyed Hugh Jones as the clearly over thinking everything Neville. The captain of the group even as chaos, or should that be crisis, reigns around him, he clearly tries not to lose a grip.
Left to right: Gordon (Jem Clack), Angus (Victor Guse), Neville (Hugh Jones) and Roy (Graham Lee).
However not for the first time perhaps, Jem Clack threatens to steal every scene from everyone as Gordon. This may well be Neville's island, however the character of Gordon is clearly given the best lines and the best characteristics, even if, as already suggested, he has quite strong opinions. The final battle between Gordon and Neville as the latter tries to put him straight on more than a few things is nicely played between Hugh and Jem.

Director Maggie Holland has clearly put great effort into creating an outside world in The Playhouse Theatre and even despite the size issues everything flows from scene to scene, and there are genuinely quite a lot of scene changes in this play. Most are handled swiftly by the cast, while we are treated to a little relevant music and light displays.

This all results in making a really rather entertaining evening. Not quite always as funny script as some, but it wields some excellent moments and definitely goes into material that you don't always get from a play within this genre. Good fun.

Performance reviewed: Wednesday 15th March, 2017 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton
Neville's Island runs at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 18th March, 2017.

For full details of the Playhouse Theatre visit their website at http://www.theplayhousetheatre.net/
and can be found on Twitter @PlayhouseNTH


Photos: Vicki Holland

Comments

  1. And of course anyone who has seen Calendar Girls and knows Tim Firth can extract humour out of chemotherapy side effects and death from cancer will not be expecting a bland script

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Blue Road by R&D Young Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have a 100% strike record with the wonderful Youth Theatre group at Royal & Derngate, they have never let me down with a show and sometimes with those of Sweeney Todd and Kontact, have provided me with some of the very optimum theatre points of each year. The Blue Road, their very latest production for me is slightly less successful.

However, it thankfully and perhaps not surprisingly, is nothing to do with the constantly talented bunch of actors that gather in this group. My problem lies in two places, of play selection and the way it is told. The Blue Road chronicles the story of a group of young people on the backend of a not totally described crisis, and this, unfortunately, is where we were more or less just two years ago with the Young Company and their show Immune. I have always been interested in these post apocalyptic stories and often love them, however for the same group to do two so close together feels a shame. They challenge certainly, but I am sure there are many…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…