By David Greig
Directed by Denis Moore
With Ella Caldwell, Vincent Miller, Dion Mills & Bruce Kerr
Set by Greg Carroll
Lighting by Nick Merrylees
Outlying Islands (March 31 – April 25, 2004)- Bill Perrett, The Sunday Age 11/04/04
Red Stitch set the bar very high with its past production, Joe Penhall’s Some Voices, and it continues that standard of performance and material with Outlying Islands by Scottish playwright David Greig.
In 1939 two young naturalists, John (Vince Miller) and Robert (Dion Mills) go to an uninhabited and remote island off Scotland to study Leach’s Petrel, a bird about which little is known. For both of them it seems the chance of a lifetime. They are billeted in an old building, once a pagan church, in the care of the island’s leaseholder, the stern Kirk (Bruce Kerr) and his pretty niece, Ellen (Ella Caldwell).
In the month that they are on the island, with war threatening in Europe, the four play out with brilliant intensity issues of freedom and convention, sensuality, love and death, all complicated by the fact that the government department that sent them seems to have sinister plans for the island.
The Red Stitch regulars are as good as ever, with Mills forceful as the driven Robert, and Miller a study in repressed passion and self-doubt as John. Caldwell’s extended monologues as the sheltered Ellen, craving a chance at a life she can only imagine from visits to the cinema, are stunning. Guest Kerr is excellent as Kirk and later the captain of the relief ship. Greg Carroll’s set is the most elaborate seen in this theatre, and it works well with Nick Merrylees’ lighting. Denis Moore directs with a sure touch.
Ella Caldwell and Dion Mills in Outlying Islands. Photo: Jodie Hutchinson.