Review: Neville’s Island by Tim Firth at Chichester Festival’s Theatre in the Park

Tim Firth may be best known for his global runaway success Calendar Girls, but Neville’s Island - which predates the WI comedy drama by a decade - is no less powerful or polished.

The hallmark of all Firth’s work is shining an interrogator’s spotlight on the character foibles of his cast and translating them into something dangerously humorous.

The mirth is underpinned by a darkness which Alan Ayckbourn has exploited to such effect over many years.

Firth has a warmth too, a gentleness which triumphs despite all the menace that his plot inflicts.

Neville’s Island recalls a team-building exercise for the Pennine Mineral Water company.

Four managers get themselves hopelessly lost, sink a rowing boat, and end up stranded on a rain-sodden island in Derwent Water.

Parallels with Golding’s Lord of the Flies cannot fail to be made by the audience. Or the author - who throws in a clever office reference to Lord of the Files.

Set in the temporary Theatre in the Park, the set in extraordinary. The cast, led by Adrian Edmondson, is equally mesmerisingly good.

If you want a good laugh and a thought-provoking piece of theatre rolled into one, this is not to be missed.