Society stalwart Peter Haslam, founder member of the Society over 40 years ago and currently the group’s President,joins fellow long standing members Martin Pearce, Paul Costello and newcomer Matt Seber in what is arguably Tim Firth’s funniest play.
The story sees four middle managers on their firm’s team building exercise who inadvertently sink the boat they are rowing in the Lake District and end up marooned on a small island in the middle of the lake.
“It should be a moment when they all come together to get themselves out of their predicament,” says director Carolyn Haslam, “but instead the situation dissolves into a melodrama of recriminations and accusations as their individual characters come to the surface.”
Matt plays finance manger and keen bird-spotter Roy.
“I’ve actually played the role before,” says Matt, who came to acting fairly recently, having had a background in stand-up comedy. Roy has recently had time off work – the reason for which we only discover later – but he’s come back rather spiritual, which aggravates Gordon, the group’s permanent malcontent.”
“To be fair, most things aggravate Gordon, says Martin who take on that role, “He’s gloriously unpleasant, sarcastic, demeaning and generally obnoxious, but that also gives him some of to the funniest lines.”
Paul Costello plays the group’s elected, but somewhat reluctant, leader Neville, the title.
“I’ve been in the play before too,” says Paul,” so I already knew how funny it was, but last time I played the part of Gordon. Neville is a far more likeable character, if a rather uncertain leader. But he tries his best to rally the others – even if he gets it spectacularly, and hilariously, wrong sometimes.”
Completing the quartet is Peter Haslam as Angus, a rather naive dstribution manager. “
Angus hasn’t been with the firm that long,” says Peter, “but has risen up the ranks quite quickly, again much to Gordon’s displeasure.”
But then most things seem to be to Gordons displeasure and it is his furious reaction to the idea that they might have to spend the night out in the open on this tiny island in the Lake District that drives the plot along – that and French Cricket.
“We’ve found ourselves laughing all the time at rehearsals,” says Carolyn, “and we already know what happens! But Tim Firth writes such witty, yet honest dialogue it’s hard not to. He writes in a way you can imagine yourself reacting if you were in that situation. That’s probably why he’s such a popular playwright.”