Neville's island - the play

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Neville's Island - London's West End 2014

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

Neville's Island - London's West End 2014. Photo Credit:  Darren Bell

All 2014 West End photographs - Darren Bell.

Neville's Island at Chichester

Rufus Hound - 2013

Ade Edmondson (Gordon) 2013

Images/redesign/nev/Tim_McMullan_Adrian_Edmondson 2013

John_Marquez 2013

Rufus Hound - 2013

Rufus Hound - 2013

Neville's Island 2013

Neville's Island 2013

Neville's Island 2013
All 2013 Chichester photographs - Johan Persson.

Neville's Island DVD

The DVD of the original TV Neville's Island is available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theatre and Tim Firth

 

neville's Island at the SJT celebrating it's 60th anniversary

Written by Tim Firth
Directed by Henry Bell
Design by Lucy Weller
 

Neville’s Island was first shown at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round at Westwood in June 1992.

The Cast

Starring Jamie Chapman, Daniel Crowder, Craig Cheetham and Jon Last

 

 

Neville's Island - London's West End: 2014

Written by Tim Firth
Originally produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre, June 1992
London's Duke of York’s Theatre 2014/15

Director - Angus Jackson
Designer - Robert Innes Hopkins
Light Designer - Howard Harrison
Music - Isabel Wallace Bridge
Sound Designer - Paul Groothui

Produced by Jamie Hendry Productions

 

The Cast

 

Adrian Edmondson (reprising his performance as Gordon from the original run at Chichester last year), Miles Jupp (Angus), Neil Morrissey (Neville) and Robert Webb (Roy).

Adrian Edmondson (reprising his performance as Gordon from the original run at Chichester last year), Miles Jupp (Angus), Neil Morrissey (Neville) and Robert Webb (Roy).  Neville's island, London's West End 2014

 

" Four highly talented comic actors delivering a superb script on the most breathtaking set I’ve ever seen used for a play, make for a fantastic evening’s entertainment... "

Reviews: Neveille's Island: London's West End

 

"What use is a flare on bonfire night?" neatly summarises the problems faced by Tim Firth's four stranded middle-management executives on a team-building exercise in the Lake District. They are stuck up a creek with too many paddles and not enough gumption.

The 1992 play - a sort of Lord of the Flies for what are referred to as mini-lords of the files - has proved a popular banker for Firth over the years, even if its lines are less funny than I remember and its mysticism more spurious than I'd like.

Last year's sumptuous looking Chichester production by Angus Jackson - Robert Innes Hopkins's setting of tall trees and ferns, the chiaroscuro lighting and fireworks of Howard Harrison, and the sounds by Paul Groothuis of a cacophonous menagerie and a passing ferry of merrymakers bopping to Manfred Mann are alone worth the price of admission - is led into town by Ade Edmondson as gormless Gordon.

The first West End version starred Tony Slattery, who had the requisite plumpness for Gordon's steamroller slobbishness and motor-mouth defensiveness. Edmondson works hard at something else: a nit-picking, non-stop head-jerking self-assertiveness, leaving Neil Morrissey's croaky team leader Neville stripped of authority and Robert Webb's seraphic God-botherer Roy quietly centre stage.

Now you see comedy acting, now you see comic acting, Webb definitely occupying the second category in his beautifully judged undercutting and his angelic transfiguration. He and Jackson give the final half hour of the play everything they've got and more than it deserves. Still, it's great theatre, with that likeable stand-up Miles Jupp chipping in tactfully as the anxiously uxorious Angus.

Angus thinks his wife, who doesn't answer his mobile calls for help, might be having sex and shopping in Sainsbury's. It's the play's main joke that an outward bound challenge should be undertaken by a bunch of omega males, a not dissimilar concept to that of bumbling celebrities squealing at cockroaches down under on television.

Neville's team have come adrift from two other groups and been wrecked after hitting a rock. There's nothing funnier all night than the sight of them changing their underwear under towels - like we British beta males do on the beach every summer - or slapping their bare torsos to keep warm.

Otherwise, gags include a sorry saga of a solo sausage, a floating piece of pizza, tales of voracious, pigeon-munching falcons and man-eating pike; these set-backs are met with the wielding of a spatula, or the improvised alarm of an orange Tupperware side-plate. It's Firth's lasting achievement that he's nailed so many macho myths in one delirious, slightly implausible scenario. And his show deserves to succeed all over again as an old-fashioned popular West End comedy.

What'sOnStage.com - Michael Coveney

 

Anyone that has ever worked in the corporate world knows that the two most feared words you can hear are “Team Building”! This seemingly innocuous but potentially soul destroying phrase can mean anything from an uncomfortable lunch with one of the company directors hearing about how great everything is, to spending a few days away with people you barely know, trying to pretend you really like hugging trees, picking the weevils out of biscuits and bonding with nature. This then is the premise behind Tim Firth’s new comedy “Neville’s Island” at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Four middle-managers: the cynical and inappropriately sarcastic Gordon (Adrian Edmondson), middle-of-the-road Angus (Miles Jupp), ineffectual, but tries his best, Neville (Neil Morrissey) and evangelical, dedicated twitcher Roy (Robert Webb) – manage, through some major overthinking and an obsession with crosswords, to get themselves marooned on an island in the Lake District whilst on a team building exercise. Not too much of a problem in this day and age you might think. Just phone for help and enjoy the day until it arrives. Oh, if only life were that easy. With only one smartphone (high on apps, low on battery power – sound familiar?) and one sausage between them, their chances of a standard rescue are pretty slim and they will have to work together to get out of this particular situation. Unfortunately, if you were to imagine the worst ‘team’ you could put together for this then this is it.

Gordon has seen it all, as he worked his way up from the shop floor to his current exalted position, and resents people like Angus who were directly appointed into management without, to his mind, having to work for it. The tensions between these two – often exacerbated by Gordon’s cruel and hurtful ‘jokes’ at Angus’ expense – mounts throughout the show and there is a constant undercurrent of dislike between them. Possibly this is because Angus isn’t as sure of himself as he wants the world to believe. He compensates for his lack of certainty by over-preparation in his life, as evidenced by his bulging rucksack (which should have been named the TARDIS Mk 2), containing everything bar the proverbial kitchen sink (apart from food of course). Trying to keep the peace between these two is Neville, one of those guys who achieve a certain level of management and no-one really knows how or why.

He is a bit of a ‘yes’ man, but also hates confrontations so attempts to act as a pacifier in conflict situations. The quartet is completed by Roy who seems to go through life with a child-like innocence and unlike the others, actually appears to be enjoying their situation with a boyish enthusiasm. His belief that God is in some way testing the team and will ultimately provide a solution never wavers for a moment, no matter how hard Angus tries to dissuade him. But Roy has a past, one that is known but not really talked about because what you really need on a small island with four trapped individuals is an elephant in the jungle to add to the mix. All credit has to go to Robert Webb for a truly outstanding performance of Roy, bringing him to life in a sympathetic and totally believable way.

Over the course of the show we get to know these people. Actually, let’s be honest we probably already know them. The characters are there in some shape or form in everyday life. As with “The Office’s” David Brent, every organisation has one or more of these four somewhere within it. In fact, at times it’s easy to identify with certain character traits of each of them, and this is one of the great beauties of the play. Coming away from it, the main question going through my mind was “what would I do in a situation like that?” I honestly don’t know but I bet whatever I did wouldn’t be as funny or as engaging as this.

Four highly talented comic actors delivering a superb script on the most breathtaking set I’ve ever seen used for a play, make for a fantastic evening’s entertainment that will leave you wanting to know what happened next and ensure you never look at the bread counter in Sainsbury’s in quite the same way ever again.

LondonTheatre1.com - Terry Eastham

 

Neville's Island at Chichester Theatre 2013

Written by Tim Firth
Originally produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre, June 1992

Director - Angus Jackson
Designer - Robert Innes Hopkins
Light Designer - Howard Harrison
Music - Isabel Wallace Bridge
Sound Designer - Paul Goothuis
Casting Director - Gabrielle Dawes


The Cast

Rufus Hound (Roy), Ade Edmondson (Gordon), John Marquez (Neville) and Tim McMullan (Angus)

MIDDLE AGED


MIDDLE MANAGEMENT


MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

 

 

reviews for Neville's Island 2013

neville's Island four star review - The Telegraph

One should always be thankful for small mercies, and I am grateful that the management of the Telegraph have never sent the arts desk on an outdoors training, team-building exercise.
If they did, the arts editor and ballet critic Sarah Crompton would be the optimistic member of the team, determined to look on the bright side. Our opera critic Rupert Christiansen would be shrouded in gloom but prove no mean hand at the map-reading, while your theatre critic would be the one who started out sarky and ended up in a blue funk when the going got tough.

Other people’s misery is one of the great comic pleasures of the theatre as Tim Firth discovered with his hit play Neville’s Island, first staged in Scarborough in 1992, and still proving deliciously dark and funny in this cracking revival in Chichester’s splendid temporary tent venue. The cast of Neville's island at Chichester 2013

The action all takes place on a small island in the Lake District in November where a team of four middle management executives have floundered to safety after their boat sank. Imagine a cross between Golding’s Lord of the Flies and that great Ricky Gervais sitcom The Office and you will get some idea of the entertainment on offer here.

Robert Innes Hopkins has come up with a superb island design, complete with pine trees the actors can climb, deep water from which the characters exhaustedly emerge at the start of the show, and persistent rain. Frankly as far as the cast are concerned this show must be almost as tough as the real thing.

Firth has a keen eye for the rivalries and power struggles of office life, and a sharp ear for snappy comic dialogue. The play is often wonderfully funny but there is also no mistaking its gathering darkness.

The performances are first rate. I have never seen Adrian Edmondson in better form than he is here as the witheringly sarcastic Gordon. At first you cherish the cruel wit of his remarks, but by the end he has been revealed as a loathsome, life denying character without a single redeeming feature. Rufus Hound proves wonderfully funny and touching as a born again Christian haunted by grief and mental illness; Tim McMullan brings a wonderful hangdog quality to the role of Angus who begins to doubt his wife’s fidelity during his island ordeal; and John Marquez captures the mounting desperation of the team leader who finds himself losing control as things go from bad to worse.

Angus Jackson directs with the panache of a man who knows he is onto a winner, deftly blending hilarity, sudden poignancy, and moments of genuine dramatic tension.

I will be astonished if this show, like so many Chichester productions in recent years, doesn’t transfer speedily to the West End.

The Telegraph - Charles Spencer

 

After the damp squib that was Barnum here’s a water-bound play at the same address that’s wet for all the right reasons. It’s about four middle-management participants of a team-building exercise who are stranded on an island in a lake.

They could do with a tent - about the only thing that the ever-prepared Angus (Tim McMullan) from distribution hasn’t packed for the weekend in his rucksack. He’s even brought his dinner jacket for the company dinner. Meanwhile, Roy (Rufus Hound) from finance is carrying a lot of baggage from the loss of his wife, and has turned to God for a sense of direction. Neville (John Marquez) from marketing, appointed group leader, appears to have no sense of direction, either.

This adventure comedy about a group of men thrown together in a struggle for elemental survival is daring, provocative and uncomfortable but also full of surprises, not least the brilliant entrance that Adrian Edmondson’s Gordon makes.

Angus Jackson’s superbly cast production keeps the tensions between the men simmeringly alive, while Paul Groothuis’ sound and Howard Harrison’s lighting provide their own atmospheric underscoring to Robert Innes Hopkins’ evocative island setting. It is surprising that Chichester has only programmed a short run for this winning play.

The Stage - Mark Shenton

 

You can’t go a whole season without a bit of water sloshing about the stage at Chichester. For the Grapes of Wrath it was accompanied by a monsoon of Biblical proportions on opening night; for Singin’ In The Rain the first half dozen rows of nicely turned out patrons got sodden.

We arrived at the opening of Friday night’s Tim Firth 1992 award-winning comedy, Neville’s Island, to find it raining in the auditorium. After all, the story is set in The Lake District on Bonfire Night, so one should have anticipated a certain amount of precipitation.

What we didn’t anticipate was one of its four-man cast, actor, and now celebrity masterchef, Ade Edmondson, making a shock entrance that momentarily stunned a full house. It was a spectacular start that won him applause from a startled audience who wondered how the trick was achieved.

We then proceeded to watch as the rest- Rufus Hound, John Marquez and Tim McMullan - squelched onto the stage after being scuttled by their boat. There was then the delicate job of changing out of their wet clothes into dry while keeping the dialogue going and without revealing too much of themselves.

The guys, all middle management from a company in Salford, are on an outward bound course to see how they would cope in a crisis.

Naturally, things don’t go according to plan. They misread the clues and end up in the wrong place, on the wrong boat and, ultimately, stranded on an island enveloped in thick fog.

The story veers from an adult version of Lord Of The Flies to farce but it’s funny right from the start thanks to quite superb performances by all four men.

Edmondson plays Gordon. He’s a nasty, snide, sarcastic, critic who demeans every effort by the others to improve their situation. Throughout the play he does his best to belittle and pour scorn on his colleagues without actually coming up with anything constructive.
Marquez, taking time out from his TV role as the dopey plod in Doc Martin, feebly attempts to exert some authority as team leader. He wins a modicum of sympathy as he does his best to buoy up everyone’s downcast mood but successful problem solving isn’t really his forte.
It isn’t helped by the fact that one of their crew, “Religious Roy” (Hound), a born-again Christian and twitcher, is recovering from a nervous breakdown and Angus (McMullan) is struggling with the realisation that his wife has probably left him.

Rufus Hound, hot foot from the smash hit One Man Two Guvnors, triumphs as he again gets the lion’s share of the physical comedy. Roy, a man prone to praying and bursting into song, may be the baby of the group and the most vulnerable, but, perhaps, not as daft as he outwardly appears.

Angus is the target of Gordon’s scorn. His wife has sent him off with pretty much the entire contents of an outdoors shop, all individually packed in freezer bags with his clothes nicely name-tagged. He doesn’t escape the wrath of Gordon – particularly when the starving men lose their only sustenance to Angus blessing himself.

There’s a lot of laugh-out-loud humour as the four struggle, both with their situation and the conflict of personalities, but there are brief lulls in the stormy scenes where the dialogue plunges to bleak, murky, depths of Derwent Water. It’s possibly no coincidence, as it was he who commissioned Neville’s Island, that there’s more than a passing resemblance in style to Alan Ayckbourn’s dark comedies.

Will the men cope in a crisis and will they get through the night without murdering each other? What’s more will anyone notice their distress flare when fireworks are going off all around them?

It’s delightfully funny and one of the best comedies I’ve seen in ages.

The Bucks Herald - Anne Cox

 

LIKE a comedy version of Deliverance, Tim Firth's 1992 play takes a quartet of tenderfooted urban dwellers and strands them in a hostile environment to shift for themselves.

Here, however, the greatest threat to their survival is their collective ineptitude and disintegrating personalities rather than Appalachian Hillbillys.

For this delirious revival Chichester's magnificent temporary theatre tent has been transformed by designer Robert Innes Hopkins into an impressively authentic island in The Lake District's Derwent Water, complete with towering pine trees and pebbled shore against which water constantly laps.

The entrance of Adrian Edmondson's Gordon, rising from the water like a middle management Kraken brings laughter that rarely lets up until the coup de theatre at the climax.

The four men are on a team building exercise for their firm which produces Pennine Mineral Water - a nice irony given that the cast spend much of the time soaking wet - and are shipwrecked when their boat hits a rock.

As they struggle with their predicament attempting to light a fire, climb trees and stay dry, various inter-office rivalries come crawling out as discomfort turns to full-blooded panic.

Marketing manager Neville (John Marquez) is the hopelessly inadequate team leader attempting to sustain everyone's spirits while losing his bearings.

Angus (Tim McMullan) has packed everything but the kitchen sink into his kitbag but is undone by the suspicion that his wife is playing away in his absence.

And Rufus Hound is wonderful as the fragile born-again Christian birdwatcher Roy, who is recovering from a mental breakdown.
Edmondson is particularly good as the lethally sarcastic Gordon whose constant jibes provoke the others; he forces Angus to tell a joke in a sequence of excruciating humiliation and eviscerates Roy's faith in an anti-theological diatribe that makes you wince.

Angus Jackson's lively direction delivers plenty of laughs without lessening the steadily accumulating tension.

Even at its funniest, as they attempt to divide a sausage into equal portions with a huge machete or quaveringly address an unseen threat ("We come in peace! We are businessmen!") the mantra of Sartre's No Exit - 'Hell is other people' - is ever present.

Firth's triumph is to reveal the essential sadness beneath the comic surface of these four absurd creatures, subtly paving the way to a denouement that is half mystical and half appalling but entirely logical.

Warning: if you sit in the front row, wear something waterproof.

The Daily Express – Neil Norman

Neville's island

Written by Tim Firth
Originally produced by Stephen Joseph Theatre, June 1992.

Director - Connal Orion
Designer - Michael Vale
Theatre flyer for the Palace Theatre in Watford
Also produced at Nottingham Playhouse and Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

Director - Jeremy Sams
Designer - Lez Brotherston

Presented at the Apollo Theatre in London's West End October 1994.

Director - Jeremy Sams
Designer - Lez Brotherston


Foreign productions have taken place in New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Australia, Canada, America, Norway, Spain and Poland and Slovenia.
 
aNominated for Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy
 
1992

 

A COMEDY IN THICK FOG
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…
 
aFour out-of-condition, middle-aged businessmen sent off on a team building exercise in the Lake District succeed in being the first people ever to get shipwrecked on an island on Derwentwater.
 
Bound in fog, menaced by wildlife and cut off from the world, this perfunctory middle-class exercise turns into a carnival of recreminations, French cricket and sausages.
 
What should have been a bonding process for Gordon, Angus, Roy and Neville turns into a muddy, bloody fight for survival. Because when night settles in, strange things happen out in the wilds. And what took place on Neville's Island that foggy November weekend none of this particular middle-management team would ever forget...

Are Neville’s map reading skills as good as he thinks?

 

The Cast

Originally presented by Stephen Joseph Theatre with..

Neville - Adrian McLoughlin
Gordon - Russell Dixon
Angus - Claude Close
Roy - Kenneth Price

Subsequently produced at the Nottingham Playhouse in 1994 with..

Neville - Jeff Rawle
Gordon - Tony Slattery
Angus - Paul Raffield
Roy - James Fleet

Presented at the Apollo Theatre in London's West End October 1994.

Neville - Jonathan Coy
Gordon - Tony Slattery
Angus - Paul Raffield
Roy - Michael Silberry

 

More...

Neville's Island ScriptNeville's Island DVDaThe play is available in print
SAMUEL FRENCH:
ISBN 0-573-14005-7

aA television film was made and broadcast in 1998 starring Timothy Spall, Jeff Rawle, David Bamber and Martin Clunes.

aThe DVD of this film is available
 

 

arrowScripts, CDs and DVDs of Tim Firth's work are available.

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