O, Island! at The Other Place - Review

O, Island! at The Other Place - Review

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Posted 2022-10-16 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Wed 12 Oct 2022 - Sat 05 Nov 2022

Every year, the Mischief Festival from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) heralds in fresh, exciting plays in Stratford-upon-Avon at its smaller The Other Place theatre.



This Autumn, there are two plays that promise to be provocative and about contemporary Britain, one of which is O, Island! .

It's an intriguing and funny production that raises plenty of smiles through its nods to current affairs and shared experiences over recent years.

Focusing on an average village on the edge of the M25 that becomes separated from the mainland after flooding, it's an edgy, unpredictable journey on what happens next.

Politically astute, the local MP tries to take control for some 'photo ops' but ends up causing a revolt among the motley crew of residents unhappy with being taken for granted by a seasoned politician. You can probably tell already just how relevant this play feels.

They are an interesting bunch of characters introduced by the Scandinavian journalist narrator Inge, who is keeping tabs on developments via video calls for a documentary.



Alex Bhat as the local MP Laurence, plays him with a joyous self-serving bumblingness, getting laughs quickly in this appealing drama.

Little by little, the island becomes more sinister under the leadership of Margaret. First impressions may paint her as a community-loving old lady, but behind closed doors, she later becomes the type of leader who stockpiles a mound of toilet rolls and has an unhealthy dislike for outsiders.

Among her subjects are feisty single mum Vi (Jade Ogugua) and the most interesting relationship dynamic of laidback teenager Laurie and his dad Mick. Laurie is a people pleaser excited to become the communications lead talking to Inge while his father climbs the ranks to become Margaret's Head of Security.



Tim Treloar as Mick and Joe Barber as his son do well to both feel relatable, realistic characters despite the riotous fantasy elements of this tale. Their roles and varying commitment to Margaret change their relationship in a fascinating way.

Nina Segal has created O, Island! and its simmering humour earned it a shortlist place for the George Devine Award 2020.

It's funny but the play is also clever, combining a mix of behaviours seen in former USSR states during the Cold War, China and even Britain during the Brexit campaigning. It's a fable on where the importance of borders can lead us all.

Although it seems like a minimal set, it's got some creative effects that make you feel like you're looking into an island cut off by rising flood waters. The video projections of leader speeches are reminiscent of those seen recently in RSC juggernauts like Richard III, so there's grandness to this small production too.

While the tensions build, the inevitable finale and clash of minds don't quite deliver the expected bombshell. Maybe it's the pace of the scene or the long soliloquy that doesn't quite fit. Thankfully, it doesn't spoil the production as a whole.

O, Island! is a riveting, fresh play that may feel like fantasy but verges on satire. Catch it while you can.

RATING :& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9734 ;

1hour 30mins with no interval

#west_midlands
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#october
!date 12/10/2022 -- 05/11/2022
%wnbirmingham
70773 - 2023-01-26 01:49:17

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