This is a play that I saw some years back at Chichester Festival Theatre in an all male manifestation. It made me laugh back then as the tensions built between a group of men on a fated team building exercise in the Lake District and was possibly more poignant as I was not that distantly divorced from the corporate working environment that I had grown to loathe.

Now we have it with an all female cast, same situation but different issues for the main part and rightly so. It should have worked, the ingredients are all there, but somehow it simply did not mesh. The cast, all accomplished actors in their own right, arrive at the island in such a state of anxiety, anger and stress that there is nowhere for those emotions to go. Anger, denial, mental frailty are all thrown at us from the get go. And for this I lay the blame at the feet of the director.

I also question the timeline of the story. Four women set off on an exercise and, misguided by their captain, arrive on an island having sunk their boat and lost a quarter of their supplies. They arrive a good five hours before their expected arrival at their real destination but it soon becomes obvious as night falls that they have gone very wrong. Their emergency phone fails, they have no food and as night falls they have no sensible plan. They have fire but do not light a beacon to attract attention and even more mysteriously the organisers of the exercise back at the base seem not to have noticed their absence and mounted a search. This becomes even more peculiar as day becomes night, then day and then night again… and still no search party has been sent. It does no favours to the reputation of mountain rescue services and that’s for sure.

Now all these quibbles you may say are nit picking, but when I start to question plot then I start to miss or dismiss the humour. And there is humour, some decent gags, a lot of stereotyping of northerners for sure and none of it done with the skill of a Victoria Wood who could do this with such skill and a sympathetic voice.

I fear that the talents of Judy Flynn, Abigail Thaw, Rina Fatania and the delightful Sara Crowe have been wasted on this re-invention that for me was as full of holes as their ill fated boat.

Andrew Kay

Theatre Royal Brighton

19 April

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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