What an evening! The Queen’s Theatre opened its doors for live performances Saturday night with what should be a resounding success; Neville’s Island, the tale of four middle managers stranded on an Island on Derwentwater.
This comedy, although it explores human emotions to the full, written by Tim Firth ( Calendar Girls, The Girls) finds our four middle managers from the Salford Mineral Water Company stranded on an island having hit the rocks with their boat. They are part of a team building exercise created by the company on a miserable weekend in November.
Neville, has been chosen as Captain of the team but is really rather inept. Gordon the brash and irreligious Scot, Angus the wife doter who has come prepared with every bit of equipment conceivable and Roy, the ultra religious ornithologist make up the group.
All four are found soaking wet and with the exception of Gordon, have their rucksacks with dry clothing, so change, with Gordon borrowing spare kit. As it is still only morning there is no sense of panic – Angus has the latest model of mobile phone, but the battery is slowly fading. Neville does his best to keep the group amused, but as the time goes on and there is no sign of rescue the stress becomes apparent.
Hunger calls and Angus pulls out a solitary sausage secreted from the breakfast plate at the hotel, arguments rage about how to divide it. The sausage is put in a pan heated up and Roy explains that grace must be said before eating it, totally against Gordon’s wishes. I won’t say what happens as that will ruin it for you! The rest of the food having gone adrift with Gordon’s rucksack to be eaten by the fishes.
Time moves on and human frailties become apparent; Gordon becomes increasingly brash and challenges the others on their lifestyles; Angus, it would appear, is gullible and susceptible to persuasion; Roy has suffered a nervous breakdown and discovered religion, in which he seeks solace, and Neville is incapable of trying to solve the crisis occurring. Gordon gets Angus to call his wife – as they don’t have the hotel number- to let them know the situation. However, she is out and he has to leave a message on the mobile.
Time passes, the fog descends, the night gets colder and imaginations start to behave in strange ways. Gordon discovers a rarely sighted Falcon, Neville and Angus try to get a game of French cricket going but Gordon is a staunch rugby man.
The fractious atmosphere continues until it reaches the point where Gordon and Angus have a fight, Gordon having insinuated Angus’ wife was being unfaithful. All four drift into their own thoughts.Angus, once again delves into his rucksack and finds a flare! Gordon screams at him “what use is a flare on bonfire night” Which just about sums this group up.
I won’t write of the ending as I urge you to go and watch this play, live theatre at its best.
Skilfully and deftly directed by Emma Baggott with a really atmospheric, minimalist set by James Button and eerie sound effects by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite they create the perfect setting.The cast of Sean Michael Verey as the hapless Neville, Philip Cairns as brash Gordon, Beruce Khan as doting Angus and Stephen Leask as religious Roy are superb. We will all identify with these people in some way or another but to bring these characters to life in such a way that makes us laugh (and cry) as here is true and engaging theatre. Thank you.
It was such a lovely experience being back at The Queen’s, everybody was made to feel welcome and despite the social distancing the audience were very appreciative of being able to see and be part of a live performance. Please try and get to see this production; the theatre is part of our community and relies on our support. A great evenings’ entertainment.