CAD make landfall with black comedy

The cast of Carmyllie Amateur Dramatic's production of 'Neville's Island'. They are from left - Finlay McDonald, Jamie Watson, Scott Ramsay and Martin Gregory.

The cast of Carmyllie Amateur Dramatic's production of 'Neville's Island'. They are from left - Finlay McDonald, Jamie Watson, Scott Ramsay and Martin Gregory.

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Last week saw Carmyllie Amateur Dramatic Society’s production of Tim Firth’s black comedy, ‘Neville’s Island’.

Something of a departure from their usual style of show, ‘Neville’s Island’ tells the tale of four middle-aged businessmen on a team-building exercise in the Lake District.

The incompetence of the ‘team captain’, the eponymous Neville, results in the wreckage of their rowing boat and the stranding of the team on a tiny, fogbound island in Derwentwater.

From the moment that the four managers emerged, dripping from top to toe, to await uncertain rescue, we were treated to a thoroughly professional exposition on the consequences of untoward pressures on four very different men.

Neville, weak and rule-bound; Angus, with his apparently perfect marriage, perfect equipment and perfect naiveté; Roy,vulnerable and seeking solace from loss in religion; Gordon, seemingly indomitable, yet struggling with his terror of intimacy-a mix that was bound to lead to painful and hilarious moments of revelation for all. And so it did.

Watching these characters as they developed under the skilful and imaginative direction of director Alison McDonald was an experience that drew the audience in, and made them laugh, gasp in shock and shed a tear, as they discovered the secrets that these men had kept hidden from each other - and from themselves.

The superb set was a triumph of design, conveying a sense of isolation and abandonment , whilst the excellent lighting and sound effects allowed the’ island’ to provide a very flexible and atmospheric backdrop to the action.

Neville, ably played by Scott Ramsay,grew before our eyes to a man who finally had confidence in his ability to ‘manage’ his colleagues’ destructive behaviour, while the psychological vulnerability of Roy was beautifully conveyed by Jamie Watson. Angus (Martin Gregory) had us by turns laughing and wincing as he struggled to hold on to his view of his perfect life, while Finlay McDonald portrayed the crumbling of Gordon’s emotional defences with conviction and panache.

These four actors led the audience along a path that exposed them to a range of emotions that lingered long after the curtain came down.

It is admirable that CADS should venture into new areas; the response of the audiences, should be reassurance that ‘Neville’s Island’ was well and truly conquered!