Islands (4 stars)

This article is from 2015


Darkest, filthiest political satire from Caroline Horton

Caroline Horton's Islands is a tough one to categorise: imagine Derek Jarman's gods and goddesses run amok with Dante's Inferno in the Blue Peter garden, and you're halfway to her hellish vision of the near-future.

A scabrous cabaret set in an isolated tax haven, where androgynous oligarchs strut, defecate on the poor and straddle every perversion imaginable – things get bleak pretty quickly when Mary (a glittery Leigh Bowery type on helium played by Horton) appoints herself the King, becoming power-crazed. Who will be sent back to Shitworld (Britain)?… cue… talent show … pause for tension.

Audacious, brutal,scatological and not for the squeamish, the excellent ensemble of bouffons and camp queens leave stains wherever they land,and they're hard to remove. They lampoon apathy and complacent anti-voters in fine lusty voice.

It is a tad long and stretches the barbs and violence almost to breaking point: heartbreaking, silly and puerile, often all at once. But that is kind of the point, because to cause such a ruption means it hurts. Ferociously uncompromising, not one audience member will have a tepid reaction to it. The kind of agit-prop it didn't seem possible to make anymore.

Underbelly, run ended.


  • 4 stars

Caroline Horton & Co, China Plate and the Bush Theatre Islands – an obscene, ink-black comedy about tax havens, greed and the few who have it all. Olivier nominee Caroline Horton (Chrissy, Mess, Penelope Retold) and her foul ensemble plunge us into a monstrous world where no-one has to pay… for anything. Islands spits…