The publicity for the Adelaide Rep’s latest production, Neville’s Island states that it is Lord Of The Flies meets The Office: It is more a combination of the French ex-penal colony Devil’s Island and Gilligan’s Island – it’s hell for the participant’s but fun for the audience.
Playwright Tim Firth (author of the smash film and play Calendar Girls) takes us on a team-building weekend with four middle managers who have enough trouble managing themselves, let alone others. Team C consisting of ‘team captain’ and self-appointed organiser Neville (Paul Davies), born-again Christian Roy (Peter Smith), sarcastic bully Gordon (Nigel Tripodi), and proper, nice, ever prepared Angus (Thorin Cupit) manage to get shipwrecked and stranded on an island in the Lakes District of England – to most people this would not be a huge catastrophe, but it is middle-management we are talking about here! Hilarious situations ensue, making for a very funny evening out.
Michael Eustice’s direction leaves no comic twig unbroken, nor any humorous rock unturned, leading the audience up fairly obvious woodland tracks only to push them off into unexpected laughs. He shows he’s no bushwhacker when it comes to casting either; this is an ensemble worthy of being shipwrecked with anywhere.
Davies, Smith, Tripodi and Cupit are all a joy to watch as they pinpoint their individual characters from the start and subtly change as their circumstances and emotions progress (or possibly regress).
Smith’s island setting is great and very workable, including trees that can be climbed and a lake that can be swum (to a degree); with Richard Parkhill’s lighting being cleverly unobtrusive as always, but with some great little special effects thrown in.
If you are going to be stranded anywhere, it’s recommended that it be Neville’s Island, where the Adelaide Rep Rescue Team will keep you warm with laughter.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: The Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street Adelaide
Season: 20-29 June 2013
Duration: 2.5 hours including intermission
Tickets: Adult $22, Concession $17, Groups (10 or more) $15, Groups (20 or more) $12
Bookings: Phone: 8212 5777 or Try Booking
Disclosure: Brian Godfrey is a former Board member of the Adelaide Repertory Theatre.