Chrysalis, ‘The Island’ – Traverse Theatre

A post-apocalyptic showdown between a group of feisty, smart and troubled teenagers and a war-torn world. Sound familiar? As a genre, ‘teenagers-in-a-dystopian world’ is oft frequented and largely popular – just look at The Hunger Games, Divergent or Maze Runner series to give you a clue.

 

The premise of ‘The Island’, as part of The Traverse’s ‘Chrysalis Festival’, which looks to bring new writing and performers to the stage, is exactly the above, and despite my high hopes and it being bolstered by some strong performances, suffered for its predictability. Indeed, only 10 minutes in, I felt as if I’d already seen the whole show.

A post-apocalyptic showdown between a group of feisty, smart and troubled teenagers and a war-torn world. Sound familiar?

Comprised entirely of the Platform Young Company, the 45-minute piece follows a group of teenagers and twenty-somethings who, thrown together after a dramatic lightning storm, are fighting for survival in a world of biological and nuclear warfare.  The idyllic goal is the ‘Island’ – a place of magical plenty and possibility, and although I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, the idea never really gets going, or knows where to go. The company use the stage well – a long, narrow strip with audience on either side – and make sure to engage either side at all times whilst making good use of the space. This works particularly well in two instances: firstly, in the opening scene, which sees two barely-lit members talk about the fallout, face to face but wide apart, which is sufficiently visceral and gory that the audience are immediately intrigued. Another sees the cast lie down and appear to sleep, which was oddly simple and effective in its strangeness.

The idyllic goal is the ‘Island’ – a place of magical plenty and possibility, and although I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, the idea never really gets going, or knows where to go.

In order to make the story more streamlined, the cast would benefit from halving in size. Scenes involving Sam, a supposedly deceased member of the group, were diluted by having many characters engage with him, meaning we were not allowed to root for anyone does cialis help bph – a major underlying problem. Bar a few, we had little to no chance to develop backstory for any of the cast – something which could be done in more depth with a smaller number over 45 minutes. An exception to the problem that big group scenes posed was a particularly strong performance from a female cast member who told the story of the ‘Old Books.’ Touches of humour here – which confused Jesus with Harry Potter and twisted the story of Noah’s ark – allowed us to laugh at the way in which stories are warped over time, and was oddly relatable.

An exception to the problem that big group scenes posed was a particularly strong performance from a female cast member who told the story of the ‘Old Books.’

Sadly, the natural talent of some cast members was overshadowed by a story which failed to redeem itself. The final twist in the tale – that the Island itself is a place that patches up the dead on the earth in order to enslave them – was slightly unoriginal, and harked down an oft-trodden path that sees disillusioned millennials fighting The Power. Ultimately, ‘The Island’ was promising – a few strong performances and glimmers of ideas that could be expanded upon further perhaps hint that, given development, the piece could offer a fresh outlook on the dystopian genre. However, this would require a great deal of character and story development, a challenge which I have no doubt this cast could take on.

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Lucy Davidson

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