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A CurtainUp London Review
As the men arrive on stage having swum to the island, they release vast amounts of water from their sleeves and trousers before deciding to change into dry clothes. In true school trip to the swimming baths style, they wind towels round their midriffs and struggle out of the wet underpants and wriggle into their dry clothes. This is a scene full of physical comedy which I thought was delightful.
Neil Morrisey as Neville, the elected captain, is the most grounded of the four and tries to stay positive. Miles Jupp as Angus has packed everything bar the kitchen sink into his rucksack but forgotten to charge his mobile phone. Robert Webb as Roy has found Christianity after a breakdown and camps up a tree watching for rare birds. Adrian Edmondson's Gordon is the most sardonic and destructive.
Looking at this situation we can speculate that the plot will either develop into The Lord of the Flies or Deliverance. In fact the second act turns into an altogether darker comedy as all four men suffer from hunger and see no sign of any rescue mission from the organisers of the Outward Bound experience. As Angus has left a message asking his wife to contact the hotel where they were meant to spend the night, the lack of rescue seems to imply that his wife might be enjoying herself elsewhere. Gordon, for whom this exercise brings out the worst, taunts Angus and Angus's insecurities come to the surface.
Robert Innes Hopkins' gorgeous woodland set has part of the lake onstage and the front row of the audience are supplied with plastic sheeting to keep themselves dry as the cast splash in the water.
This play has to be set in the 1990s before the whole world had mobile phones or at least they need to be in a no reception area. The comedy does have a slightly dated feel to it although all four actors are excellent at characterisation. There are also some wonderful jokes, especially in the first act. After rigging up a makeshift flag out of an orange plate and a branch, they discover that Angus has flares packed but as it is Bonfire Night, the competition from adjoining firework displays means the emergency flare will go unnoticed.
The second act is weaker than the first as the playwright hasn't encouraged us to care about what happens to his characters but I laughed a lot in the first act.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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