Theatre review: The Island (Cervantes Theatre)

Ada and Laura are in a hospital waiting room in the early hours of the morning. They have been together for 15 years, and their son is in the operating theatre after an accident.

We have already seen a brief prologue about islands being distrupted by a baby island in their midst before equilibrium reigns, as Ada pours water between three cups and tells us about Hunga Tonga’s birth and obliteration.

Laura is the upbeat one on the surface. A cop who is practical, caring, and positive, she contrasts with Ada’s peevish worrying before both find the waiting and the sterile atmosphere make them needle each other and pick at scabs which may have healed.

There are moments where both characters have a chance to confess to the audience about their relationship and their deepest feelings. The Island is a play of intensity, love, and contradiction, directed with care by Jessica Lazar.

Production photo for The Island

Questions are asked and left unanswered – Ada, the teacher, prays, Laura, the pragmatic, pauses, both wrestle with their guilt at longing for a child but secretly hoping for freedom. Samuel, although loved and “special” needs constant attention and will never speak, enjoy a story, or cuddle.

The Island, written by Juan Carlos Rubio and presented in Tim Gutteridge’s translation, captures the shorthand of a long relationship while being realistic about the small moments of coffee spills, phone texts, and bad jokes.

Under the harsh fluorescent lights of the waiting room, Rebecca Crankshaw’s Ada and Rebecca Banatvala’s Laura are fully-formed creations who take us on their journey and eventual resolution. Both actors impress in a script that twists and turns.

Sorcha Corcoran’s set suggests sterility, sex, blood, lava, and anguish in its red plastic rectangle, enhanced by light flickers and mist. This is a raw, tense, and honest piece that surprises even if you know the basic premise.

You can see The Island at the Cervantes Theatre (a short walk from Southwark station) until 21 Oct: tickets here.


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