Never Seen In Cambridge: Neville’s Island

Jess Saunders 22 October 2014

I first encountered ‘Neville’s Island’ as one of my brother’s A level Drama performances. In my quest to uncover a plot synopsis I was unable to find a Wikipedia page for it (a necessary task for someone who’s been to one too many surreal, hard to follow plays). Therefore I wasn’t really sure what to expect when the lights went down; what I saw was quirky, insightful and incredibly funny.

Described by the Telegraph as Lord of the Flies meets the Office, the Olivier award-winning comedy centres on four workmates on a dreaded team building weekend who become shipwrecked in the Lake District.

Each man starts off as a caricature; there’s Angus who is uber-prepared materially and mentally for any situation that may arise, Roy the incredibly mild-mannered Christian, Gordon who routinely antagonises each character with cutting sarcasm and unstoppable pessimism, and of course, Neville the hapless leader figure. The play mostly revels in the comedic interplay of these characters, however it is the underlying and rising tension that really sets ‘Neville’s Island’ apart. As the play goes on the strain begins to show and while it never loses its sense of fun, there are definitely depths to be explored.

Neville’s Island is once again gracing the stage of the Duke of York’s Theatre, London with an all-star cast. Therefore it only seems appropriate that Cambridge should follows its lead and put on a production, especially since its writer, Tim Firth, is an Alumni of Footlights. After all, what could be better to combat the week 5 blues than a light-hearted reminder of how much worse everything could be – I’d certainly take essay deadlines over team building any day.