Neville and Co ensure that island is a hoot

Alexander Bell, Dominic Blakey, Josh Harvey and Vinnie Bremner with Stan Walton as director.

Alexander Bell, Dominic Blakey, Josh Harvey and Vinnie Bremner with Stan Walton as director. - Credit: Archant

Neville’s Island is one of my favourite plays, thanks to its combination of laugh-out-loud comedy and disintegration into a pastiche of Lord of the Flies.

TIm Firth’s play about four work colleagues stranded on an island in the Lake District during a team-bonding exercise is perhaps a little dated but the principle is still the same - stick four unlikely characters together, light the blue touch paper and wait for the resulting drama.

And there was plenty of drama in the debut performance last week by Holly Road Productions which can be seen again at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans tomorrow and on Saturday nights, August 14 and 15.

Neville’s Island is not an easy play with which to launch a new drama company - it is very demanding of the four characters, requires good comic timing and the ability to switch seamlessly from going for laughs to black comedy.

So all credit Holly Road Productions for doing such a good job with it - and having the audience laughing from the outset.

Although the play is called Neville’s Island, the key character is actually Gordon, the rumbustious, sarcastic member of the quartet who has no qualms about undermining his colleagues.

Josh Harvey is excellent in the role of Gordon, a loud-mouthed bully who is fine at dishing it out to the others but unable to cope when they start to give it back.

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That the play almost ends in violence is no surprise - no-one would want to be stuck on an island overnight with a Gordon.

Vinnie Bremner as the group leader Neville brings plenty of self-effacement to the role which contrasts well with Gordon’s hectoring approach while Alexander Bell as the uxorious Angus - a man so organised that he packs frying pans but forgets a mobile phone charger - is equally good as he switches from being Gordon’s prime target to his nemesis.

The quartet is completed by Roy, a bird-loving Christian who has a darker past than is first apparent and is played with an attractive gentleness by Dominic Blakey.

Stanley Walton directs Neville’s Island and uses the Maltings Arts Theatre cleverly to give a strong feeling of isolation without lashings of water and greenery.

The final two performances start at 7.30pm and tickets are available from MADELEINE BURTON