ISLANDS To 21 February.


by Caroline Horton.

Bush Theatre 7 Uxbridge Road Shepherd’s Bush W12 8LJ To 21 February 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 14 Feb 2.30pm.
Captioned 6 Feb.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval (just a brief pause).

TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 January.

An island well steered-clear of.
In Stella Feehily’s 2013 attack on what’s happening to the National Health Service, This May Hurt A Bit, there’s a quick scene where the audience sees a graph showing how much money entrepreneurs have provided for new hospitals, and how much more they’re taking from the public purse in profits. “Why aren’t you angry?” an actor demands. In less than one minute that says more about the politics of modern England than is effortfully bunged in to Caroline Horton’s Islands for 100 minutes.

The piece tediously insists on flogging its dead-horse concept, an Aristophanic home for the super-rich hovering above ‘shitworld’ below, which is heard only as a sewer under the new paradise where (metaphorically) Adam delves and Eve spins in the service of the few who hold all the cherries. This super-world is, though, no equivalent to the gated mansions or luxury liners where the super-rich hole themselves away from the dangers and downsides of modern life.

It’s a dirty, empty swimming-pool. There may be streets in London where the international plutocracy leave spare properties to rot till they’re ready to sell them at a profit; but the super-rich don’t live like this. Except metaphorically. And 100 minutes makes an overextended metaphor. There’s plenty of scope to show what a dull, stale, weary, flat and unprofitable world the profit-takers make for themselves, and for others, more informatively and with more point.

There’s something in the idea of power casually dispensing injustice. But there’s no analysis of how money exploits its power amid all the self-indulgence on show. And no hope among the static paradisal wasteland, despite Eve’s eventual rebellion.

There’s no reason different theatrical approaches shouldn’t be taken to political and social matters. Word-based arguments and realism isn’t the only way to attack a major subject. But this over-repetitive assemblage of physical images lacks any cumulative or dialectical impact.

Pity the hapless actors trying to make something of this fecal, fatal, dramatic mess. Be unsurprised neither director nor designer can much mitigate the event. Be shocked that ‘s turned-up at the Bush. Better fortune to them next time.

Agent: John Biddle.
Swill: Seiriol Davies.
Mary: Caroline Horton.
Eve: Hannah Rington.
Adam: Simon Startin.

Director: Omar Elerian.
Designer: Oliver Townsend.
Lighting: Jackie Shemesh.
Sound: Elena Peña.
Music/Songs: John Biddle, Seiriol Davies.
Additional Music/Arrangements: Elena Peña.
Additional Lyrics: Caroline Horton.
Script consultant: Selma Dimitrijevic.
Assistant director: Lucy Skilbeck.

2015-02-12 12:28:52

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