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Outlying Islands

Summer 1939. Two young naturalists from Cambridge university, Robert and John, arrive on a remote Hebridean island to conduct a wildlife survey on behalf of the government. Robert is combative, provocative and curious, John is reserved and conservative. They are accompanied by Kirk, the islands tenant, and his young neice Ellen. When Kirk inadvertently reveals to the boys the true reason for their island survey, Robert and John are drawn into a dark primeval world of raw emotion, sexual passion, voyeurism and murder.

John: . I dream persistently of forcing myself on her and in the hours of the early morning when I am at my weakest I feel only a thin wall separates me from rising and going to her bed and -
I feel myself to be falling.
I must remember – there is a boat coming.
I must remember – there is a war coming.
I must remember – there are other people to consider.

This play was inspired by the book Island Going by Robert Atkinson. That book describes his birdwatching trips to the Hebrides in the 1930’s. It’s a gorgeous book and the photographs particularly captured my attention. The Hebrides in the 30’s was still very much connected to an ancient history. The Cambridge of Robert and John was already a world of science connected to the modernity of the 21st century. In the photos those two worlds come together.

Title: Outlying Islands
Premier Place and Date: Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh August 2002
Director and Producing Company: Philip Howard, Traverse Theatre
Publication Details: Faber ISBN 0571217605
Translation Details: German, French
Foreign Performances: Germany ’02, Rideau de Bruxelles ’03
Awards, Prizes: Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel, Best New Play (Scottish Critics Award)
Characters: 5 (Male – 3 Female – 1)