The Island

There is an intriguing opening to The Island at the Cervantes Theatre. It fully embraces the title of the play by Juan Carlos Rubio in this translation by Tim Gutteridge, directed by Jessica Lazar, but its significance as a metaphor for their predicament becomes apparent only as the story unfolds. It works well as a prologue, creating a sense of mystery as to what might follow.

Engaging with creditable performances

The two-hander is focused on the relationship between Ada (Rebecca Crankshaw) and Laura (Rebecca Banatvala). They met when Ada was 35 and Laura only 20, but have now been together for fifteen years. They sit in the hospital waiting room for news of their son Samuel, whom Ada carried, courtesy of a sperm donor. He was born with a damaged brain and has now fallen out of the window of their 7th floor apartment.

At this tense moment in their relationship, conversation becomes increasingly stressful as a range of often difficult subjects and issues are brought under the spotlight. The most awkward to confront is whether they really want Samuel to survive or whether his death would open up the prospect of a new life that no longer had to deal with his challenging behaviour, would offer greater freedom and the opportunity to work on repairing their faltering relationship. Ada’s faith in God, with whom she communicates on close terms, seems not to rule this out. Laura is less convinced, however, but then her mind is occupied by handling her parents and dealing with another lover she believes to be a secret.

Laura’s a cop; though why we need to know this is not really explored. Ada’s distanced approach to children probably stems from her years as a teacher, though she loved her dealings with them. Crankshaw displays the greater maturity that might be expected in such a relationship, while Banatvala still seems very young, given the years that have passed. Apart from an accident with a gin and tonic it would be interesting to know more about what drew them to each other. Indeed, the writing has plenty of material but there is little depth to its exploration.

The Island is engaging with creditable performances, but remains aloof rather than moving. There is no sense of feeling anything at the emotional level for either character and likewise for their son.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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Multiple Venues

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The Blurb

Juan Carlos Rubio is a Spanish scriptwriter, director and playwright.

Born in 1967 in the town of Montilla in the province of Cordoba, after graduating in Textual Interpretation from the Royal School of Dramatic Art, he acted in theatre productions and television series. He also presented the television competitions 3, 2, 1… contacto and Enróllate.

Since 1992 he has been writing television and film scripts, and was nominated for the Goya Award for Best Original Screenplay for Retorno a Hansala (2008), by Chus Gutiérrez. He won the Silver Biznaga Award for Best Screenplay at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival 2010 for Bon Appétit by David Pinillos. His plays have been premiered in several American countries, such as Peru, Chile, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina and the United States. In Europe, his plays have been premiered in Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and Italy. The production of Las heridas del viento, premiered in New York, was nominated for five ACE awards from the Asociación de Cronistas del Espectáculo, including Best Show.

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