FURTHER THAN THE FURTHEST THING
Playwright - Zinnie Harris
Director - Irina Brown
Associate Director - Zinnie Harris
Designer -Niki Turner
Lighting Designer - Neil Austin
Music - Gary Yershon
Sound Designer - Duncan Chave
Movement - Jackie Matthews
Company Voice Work - Barbara Houseman
Venue - Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, London. NW6 Nearest tube station Kilburn Box Office 020 7328 1000
Dates - 1 - 23 June
Runtime - 2 hours 45 minutes including one interval.
Reviewer - Timothy Ramsden
An old couple called Mill and Bill might sounds like
something from a Samuel Beckett dustbin, but here they're islanders
evacuated to Britain when a volcano erupts. Unnamed, their home is based
on the remote Atlantic isle of Tristan da Cunha, whose inhabitants were
moved in 1961 to the still pre-'sixties' Britain.
Their lives interact with Hansen, a sympathetic South
African businessman who seeks to build an island factory, then employs
the islanders in England. Between the two worlds is their adopted 'son'
Francis. Out of their stories, with the pregnant young islander Rebecca,
who wishes her child dead, Harris weaves a story of deceit and betrayal
born of the best motives and wefted into the fabric of human life.
All but Mill and Francis have been recast since the Tron Theatre Glasgow/ Royal National premiere production at the Edinburgh Fringe 2000, and Furthest Thing still packs a mighty punch. It's thanks in part to Brown's tight direction, the integrity which Paul Shelley finds in Hansen and Gary McInnes's fine work as Francis, oscillating between shame at his gauche island heritage and affection for the old folks at home. Mostly, it's down to Paolo Dionisotti's Mill. Assimilating Harris's idiosyncratic island-speak, a mix of accent and grammatical quirks which in lesser hands could be plain embarrassing, Dionisotti creates a dignified, heroic individual. Her Mill has the peasant's mix of craft and innocence, guile and transparency, that makes her someone you can fool part of the time at the cost of guilt to follow.
Fine actor as he is, David Burke as Bill can't throw off the feel of an urban academic in mufti, trying to speak the locals' dialect down at his weekend rural retreat, while Mairead McKinley, Rebecca, does nothing to disguise her Irish tones. Why? When other islanders have their own voice, what's the point of the Celtic connection? It doesn't help with the character most awkwardly thrown into Harris' thematic web.
© Timothy Ramsden 6 June 2001