Theatre Review - Further Than the Furthest Thing

ZINNIE Harris’ award-winning play about an isolated community, first produced in 1999, is given an atmospheric revival by Jennifer Tang. Set on the remote volcanic island, Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory, Further Than the Furthest Thing is based on real events.

Francis Swain (Archie Madekwe), the nephew of Mill (Jenna Russell) and Bill (Cyril Nri), returns home after some time away. He brings with him smooth-talking Mr Hansen (Gerald Kyd), a factory owner from Cape Town who wants to build a crawfishing processing plant on the island.

Francis reunites with his sweetheart Rebecca (Kirsty Rider) and discovers that she has become pregnant in his absence. We learn that she had been raped by sailors and does not want to keep the baby.

Bill is opposed to Hansen’s plans and votes against the plant. When Francis tells his family that he will try his luck with Hansen, Mill threatens to leave with him if Bill cannot convince him to remain on the island.

Desperate, Bill persuades Rebecca to tell Francis the baby is his so that he will stay and marry her. In return, he promises to kill the baby as soon it is born. Events nearly overtake them when the volcano erupts and Rebecca goes into labour.

In the second half, the islanders have been evacuated and relocated to England. They are working in one of Hansen’s glass jar factories. Mill yearns to return to her beloved island, but is told that the volcano destroyed everything. When Mill reveals a terrible secret from the past, Hansen decides to tell her the truth.

It’s a captivating, often lyrical tale and beautifully acted. In Soutra Gilmour’s simple but effective design, the audience surround the action sitting on wooden benches.

I loved Ian William Galloway’s video projections of the sea and Shapla Salique’s haunting live vocals.

Warmly recommended.

Until April 29

Published by Westminster Extra