EFR - Reviews of The Isle of Muck

The Isle of Muck

Fri 3rd – Sat 18th August 2018

reviews

Molly Stock-Duerdoth

at 08:58 on 9th Aug 2018

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Bluetooth Kevin Theatre’s ‘The Isle of Muck’, written by Bristol student Panda La Terriere, follows the day-to-day life of the eccentric residents of a bizarre rehabilitation centre for internet addicts. The clinic, which occupies the Scottish isle, is helmed by a man who has inexplicably changed his name to January, himself a recovering music streaming addict, and his nephew Basil who is prolonging his treatment artificially to avoid returning to society. The drama is driven by the arrival of Maisie, an awkward teenager who spends her days creating memes she doesn’t understand, and charts her relationships with the other patients after she is prescribed “chit chat” by January.

Although the premise suggests a solemn examination of the effects of the internet, this entirely light-hearted comedy takes no aspect of itself seriously and instead uses the set-up as a background to a continuous gag-reel. Despite the often hackneyed topics – latent homosexuality, nonsense therapy, airhead vloggers – the cast manage to glean proper laughter continuously through their sheer exuberance. Prancing across the stage with unwavering energy, the exaggerated characters are delightfully cartoonish, and the dialogue is full of sharp, unpredictable quips.

Some of the staging is a bit odd, with characters often standing right at edge of the stage so that they are almost in line with the front row, making them difficult to see from further back. The high turn-over of lively scenes keeps the play rollicking along nicely but can also feel a bit overwhelming, and the busyness dampens the effects of the supposedly poignant moments. The subplots and undertones become a bit chaotic – there are continuous references to January’s brother which never really develop into anything, and various love stories and devious plots which, while fun, are not given the space to develop properly and end up cluttering what is an already extremely colourful drama. Nevertheless, it is constantly entertaining, and it is a testament to the skill and enthusiasm of the cast that this level of silliness never becomes grating.

The show is undeniably great fun and made even more enjoyable for the fact that the cast are clearly enjoying themselves. Although a little random at points and perhaps rushed towards the end, it is a genuinely funny production with some excellent character comedy and a fantastically witty script, making for an extremely energetic performance which, while slightly confusing, is never dull.

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Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 15:00 on 9th Aug 2018

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The socially awkward Maisey has cracked it. She’s the ultimate meme generator, and with her computer skills she’s managed to create an app that’s earning her millions. But her parents are worried that she’s lost the ability to communicate with people properly – she forgot her own brother’s name for God’s sake! What to do? They send her off to the Isle of Muck.

‘The Isle of Muck’ is a comedy drama set on an island off Scotland, where you will find a a rehabilitation centre for recovering Internet addicts. With its Victorian dress, no-WiFi policy and reclusive residents Maisie finds herself thrown into a Alice in Wonderland-style world, filled with a cast of perfectly considered eccentrics and engaging twists of fate.

Kev the red-faced, fast-talking businessman can’t finish his imaginary 10-hour business call, and his “B.O. is like fucking chloroform!” — the ex-blogger snaps into moments of hilarious girly tips and tricks for beautifying your food, or suggestions for the best way to apply a face-mask (while smearing paste all over her face.) January has a bad music streaming habit, and his allusive brother ‘Big Dog’, who runs the Isle of Muck, sent him there to get better. And Basil — Well, Basil seems normal enough… So what’s he still doing there?

The characters are all in perfect calibration, in terms of their dialogue, their quirks, and their roles in the plot that develops. It’s the mark of Panda La Terriere's incredibly economical writing when almost every line merits a laugh, even as it reveals character and pushes the story further forward. And it couldn’t be done without the seamless acting the cast demonstrated on all fronts, with every single character managing to remain utterly convincing.

So thank you, ‘Isle of Muck’. I was beginning to lose faith in amateur theatre but now it has been restored. This is an absolutely cracking show full of creativity and wit, and I’m sure it’s not the last I’ll see of this cast. I’m certainly looking forward to next time.

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