Following their five-time Offie award nominated production of Steven Berkoff’s East, the award- winning Atticist return to the King’s Head Theatre with a powerful revival of Scottish playwright David Greig’s Outlying Islands.
Directed by Jessica Lazar, Outlying Islands demonstrates the lyricism and humanity that has made David Greig one of the UK’s leading dramatists. The play now returns in its first London revival since the Royal Court in 2002.
On the eve of the outbreak of World War II, two young ornithologists are sent to a remote Scottish Island by the government to conduct a survey of the island’s birds. Left to their own devices on an isolated and windswept scrap of land, the only other human inhabitants are Kirk, the aged and authoritarian leaseholder, and his niece Ellen. As their gaze turns inwards, the mainland recedes further into the distance and life on the island ignites desires and creates inescapable tensions.
Transporting us to a world where the line between reality and fantasy is blurred, David Greig’s funny, poetic and moving play bravely explores a society on the edge of immense change.
Director Jessica Lazar comments, “David Greig has created a play that is strange, beautiful and very funny. It brims over with power, hope and grief. In the anarchic magical realism of Outlying Islands, tensions between self and society, and between reason and belief, play out to heightened and extraordinary effect. I am looking forward to bringing it to the King\’s Head Theatre.”
Outlying Islands is inspired by real events, including Robert Atkinson and John Ainslie’s 1935 search for the Leach’s Fork-Tailed Petrel, as recorded in Atkinson’s Island Going. The play also reflects on the the British government’s decision to bomb an Island off the west coast of Scotland with anthrax during World War II, in order to test the efficacy of chemical weapons. Gruinard Island was closed for 50 years and only ‘decontaminated\’ in 1990.
The first version of Outlying Islands was aired as a radio play broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2002 and shortly after, in the same year, a stage production premiered at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Here the show won a Fringe First and Herald Angel, before transferring to an Olivier-nominated run at the Royal Court in September 2002, the last London showing of the play before its upcoming revival in 2019.
Outlying Islands is at The King’s Head Theatre 9th January to 2nd February 2019.