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Watermill - Neville's Island

29th September to 6th November 2004.

From Kick FM.

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.


There was a TheatreWorld review at (now defunct) ("very funny, very well performed and a very good night out").

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Marooned with good company

Neville's Island, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until November 6

Director Heather Davies revealed in Friday night's talkback that, having taken part in a team-building exercise herself, she found that civilisation broke down after only one day.

It takes rather less time for four Salford business men to be done with polite office chit-chat when they find themselves marooned on an island in the middle of Derwentwater, thanks to convoluted thinking by overgrown Boy Scout leader Neville (Chris Myles).

From Gordon (Colin Mace), Angus (Giles Taylor) and Neville's first entrance, splashing through lukewarm water, to be joined by Roy (Alisdair Simpson), the dialogue was fast, pacy and simply tremendously funny.

Gordon, master of sarcasm, has little time for pernickety Angus or religious Roy ("just look for him at the line where the waters part") and only wants to get back to civilisation.

The food has sunk, swimming's out owing to hostile pike and the mobile phone has only enough battery for one call. When Angus uses this to contact his wife the answerphone greets him.

It is only after Neville has short-lived success with rubbing two sticks for hours to produce fire that Angus reluctantly reveals the Zermatt Self-Lighting Stove in his knapsack along with other vital survival equipment -including a solitary sausage.

The contrasting characters strike sparks off each other - there are cartloads of great one-liners such as Gordon's response to look-out Roy's query: "Did you see that?" when he points out that this is "not a good question for a look out" and the laughter was continuous.

The mood darkens in the second half with Roy secretive about his past and obsessed with a falcon flying around the island. In spite of the answerphone message no help arrives and although there is still humour the tensions between the four characters mount as good egg Neville desperately tries to keep the peace.

Finally, author Tim Firth neatly brings together humour and drama in a bizarre and unexpected ending.
Go if you're feeling a bit down, if only to see the moment when Team C try to attract the attention of a passing karaoke ferry with sparklers.

The four actors keep the differences between their characters well defined and their quickfire reactions combined with Firth humour make this favourite play come up sparkling as a Lakeland beck.