Sheila's Island, King's Theatre, Review

Submitted by Erin Roche on Thu, 3 Mar '22 10.01pm
Rating (out of 5)
Sheila's Island (2022) Photo Credit Craig Fuller
Show details
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Tim Firth (writer), Joanna Read (director), Liz Cooke (set & costume designer), Paul Anderson (lighting designer), Jon Nicholls (composer & sound designer), Ginny Schiller (casting director), Emily Jane Kerr (assistant director), Judith Phillips (voice and dialect coach), Philip D'Orleans (fight director), Tom Hurley (general manager), Liza Cheal (production manager & YAT head of production), Dave North (company & stage manager - rehearsal and opening), Roger Richardson (company & stage manager and relighter - tour), Catherine Gibbs (deputy stage manager), Adam Moore White (technical assistant stage manager), Hannah Walker (production lighting & YAT senior lighting technician), Jacob Moor (production sound & YAT deputy technician), Ben Ryder (head of wardrobe), Annie James (costume supervisor), Vicky Jukes (props supervisor), Craig Fuller (photography - production & rehearsal), Feast Creative (artwork), Michael Wharley & Oliver Rosser (photography - lead image), Bower Wood Construction (set building), Paul Matthews Transport, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Marketing Team and Chloe Nelkin Consulting
Judy Flynn (Sheila), Abigail Thaw (Denise), Rina Fatania (Julie), Sara Crowe (Fay), Tracy Collier (understudy - played Julie in this performance, reviewed here)
Running time

Sheila’s Island at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh is billed to be The Office meets Lord of the Flies meets Miranda, an apt summary which only skims the surface of the depth of laughter and heart layered within this new piece of comedy writing by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls, Kinky Boots)

A team building weekend gone very wrong, Team C from Pennine Mineral Water Ltd have been blown way off course on their outward bound corporate adventure. No amount of cryptic crossword clue cracking or seemingly endless stores of camping kitchenware can get them off this island and back in time for the final banquet; they’re on their own: activate survival mode. Office politics melt away to reveal truths both beautiful and ugly, all the while the team’s attempts to stay warm, fed and dry keep the audience in fits.  

The script is both sharp and warm and exceedingly, satisfyingly funny. The women who bring it to life are much the same. Judy Flynn as ever-cheery leader Sheila, Abigail Thaw as sardonic Denise and Sara Crowe as wholesome Fay are joined by understudy Tracy Collier in the role of Julie. This particular four-women comedy schtick, laced with the gut-punching sarcasm radiating off of Denise and onto sweet Julie, hearkens a bit to The Golden Girls and a Dorothy-to-Rose vibe, a most welcome comparison of personalities. 

All four of the women onstage are dynamic, engaging comedic actors in their own right who make such a strong display of their characters that you fall in love with them quite quickly (even when they, at times, aren’t acting very lovable). Any review of this night’s staging of Sheila’s Island must not omit the admirable performance of Tracy Collier, standing in for Rina Fatania in the role of Julie. Collier has impeccable comedic timing and her Julie was easily the most endearing of the Team C ladies. 

The only thing holding these women back (besides their lack of navigational skills) is the lack of amplification, which means that cacophony of laughter from the audience often drowns out some of the extra punchlines packed into a scene following its first gag. 

Exploring true, flawed humanity that becomes unearthed from corporate milieu in times of crisis makes not only for good theatre (and good comedy), but is also a timely concept to traverse in the wake of Covid’s near destruction of the rigid, “professional” facade found in many workplaces where you’re an employee first and a human second (a rare silver lining of this pandemic). In life, like in this piece of art, the women may disagree on many things throughout their misadventure, but ultimately they must work together to survive and find faith and humour along the way. 

Age guidance 13+
Tue 1 Mar - Sat 5 Mar 2022
Evenings Tue - Sat 7.30pm | Matinees Wed & Sat 2:30pm

Tickets available here: