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Review: 'This Island's Mine' @ Spielman Theatre

With a running time of an hour, I did not expect to feel both like a small child and the overwhelming desire change the world.

By Amy O'Mahony, First Year Theatre and English

With a running time of an hour, I did not expect to feel both like a small child and the overwhelming desire change the world.

Roustabout Theatre’s ‘This Island’s Mine’ tells the story of three people Stephano, Caliban, and Ariel as they fight to decide who has the right to claim, ‘this island’s mine’.

In a playful and daring way ‘This Island’s Mine’ draws attention to colonialism, identity, and immigration and actively encourages its audience to continue the conversation after the show.

Actors Robin Hemmings, Kesty Morrison, Eleanor Pead | Image Courtesy of Craig Fuller

The director Toby Hulse achieves this through his clever use of Brechtian and Forum theatre tropes which not only make the play enjoyable but political. Capturing these pertinent issues on stage in a child-friendly way is never an easy task, yet, This Island’s Mine managed to achieve it smoothly. Hulse’s choice to include thought-provoking voiceovers of different people’s responses to what a home is perfectly introduced the themes of the play.

As I entered, I immediately felt transported to a paradise island. Designer Maria Terry’s choice of a raw, bohemian set created with tie-dye tapestry and symbolic props flawlessly echoed an uninhabited tropic island. The play made use of the intimate, small Spielman Theatre to directly address the audience, incorporating them into the action.

The character of Stephano played by Eleanor Pead was bewildering, although it was clear through her words that she was a manipulative Western coloniser her attempts to appeal to a young audience undermined her ability to portray Stephano as the bad guy. It felt like Hulse missed an opportunity with Stephano, emphasising stereotypical images of the Western coloniser would have intensified the Brechtian elements of the play.

Robin Hemmings, Eleanor Pead | Image Courtesy of Craig Fuller

Although, This Island’s Mine did leave me questioning what is a home? How can we own things? What does it mean to live in a civilised society? Perhaps this was Hulse’s intention as the actors reconvened together to sing a song about taking ownership for our actions and making changes.

Yet as they sang ‘If not now when will it be’ it left the ending feeling forced as if they felt the need to reinforce the meaning behind the play into a song in case the audience did not pick up on it. However, the play still managed to successfully convey its messages.

Madam Butterfly @ Bristol Hippodrome ★ ★ ★ ★
Review: ‘Vanguard x Vans – Martha: A Picture Story’ @ Arnolfini ★★★★★

Featured Image: Craig Fuller

What theatre have you checked out so far this term?