Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sheila’s island is an adaptation of Tim Firths comedic play “Neville’s Island” – This laugh aloud version is written for an all female cast.
At the beginning of the performance we meet four middle aged women, whom having misinterpreted clues on a team building exercise have ended up washed up and stranded on a small island in the Lake District. We witness the stages that each of these unique characters go through over the days they are marooned as they become desperate to be rescued.
Now clearly there is a target demographic for this show, and it won’t be for everyone. But luckily for me I’m a forties something woman and this show sang to me. I could identify a little bit with every character and I’ve certainly met each of these women in the workplace in my lifetime.
I found it engaging and hilarious – the gags just keep coming and it explores so many relevant every day issues that Middle Aged women face.
The cast were outstanding – Abigail Thaw’s Denise was the character that you hated but loved in equal measure – Thaw’s comedic timing and expression were incredible. There is a clear chemistry between the cast members – but the too-ing and fro-ing between Thaw and Rina Fatania as Julie was hilarious. It’s like the script was written for them.
Judy Flynn holds the story together in her portrayal of Sheila – her monologues keep the plot moving and the audience interested in those occasional moments where the scenes start to drag a little. Sara Crowe’s character Fay provides us with an insight into emotional loss and guilt, but sometimes it feels like these issues needed to be developed further in the script.
The comedy that comes out of the contents of Julie’s backpack is side splitting. We all know someone who goes camping or adventuring with every single item they could possibly buy at the outdoor adverture shop. But the scene with the sausage is absolute genius! I’m not sure I will ever be able to eat a sausage from a hotel breakfast in the same way again.
Special mention needs to be given to the set design by Liz Cooke- the uneven ground brings a realistic surface to the set, the actors have to watch each step, helping to portray the setting of a remote island. It’s very clever and means that the set, along with the sound and lighting, become a huge part of the show and without that it wouldn’t have the same organic feel to it.
All in all this was a fabulous production, with excellent acting and comedy. All that was missing was greater pace in some scenes and perhaps some further character development.
If you’ve ever been on a corporate team building weekend away you will definitely recognise these unhinged yet lovable characters.
Sheila’s Island is on at The Lowry until Saturday 2nd April tickets available here.