The autumn 2022 Mischief Festival was a double bill of two new plays.
Ivy Tiller: Vicar's Daughter, Squirrel Killer by Bea Roberts and O, Island! by Nina Segal played in The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon in autumn 2022.
Ivy Tiller: Vicar's Daughter, Squirrel Killer
“You know you act like you’re not from here”
Entrenched in her picturesque Devonshire village, Ivy Tiller is preparing to wage a war. Her target: the invasive grey squirrel. Her goal: to oust the invaders and restore the native red squirrels as the ‘rightful’ inhabitants. Galvanised by her important mission, Ivy’s determination swells to uncomfortable heights. This darkly comic new play from Bea Roberts challenges who belongs and who thrives.
Summer 2022; the little village of Manaford Morton is about to become the first wild red squirrel habitat in Devon, in large part thanks to the efforts of vicar’s daughter, Ivy Tiller, who has made it her personal mission to kill every grey squirrel.
But not everyone is on board with this campaign, including primary school teacher Jade and Garrison (AKA Gary), Ivy’s cherished cousin, who comes to stay with her and Ivy’s father, Clive, following Gary’s release from prison.
When Ivy and her adoring lieutenant Reece successfully assassinate Big Mama, the final grey squirrel standing between them and victory, Ivy’s mission is complete, but her world begins to crumble.
As the Manaford Morton Red Squirrel Action Force is disbanding and Gary and Jade’s flirtations are blossoming, Ivy is left with an itchy trigger finger and no clear enemy left to fight…
"You do not feel pain. You do not feel hunger. Now get out there and dance as though you love this island.”
When a river breaks its banks one night resulting in a massive flood, one medium-sized village (or very very very small town) finds itself completely cut off - unexpectedly an island. As the residents embrace their independence, a new leader rises and a shared identity emerges – but at what cost? O, Island! is a funny and furious modern myth about disaster and community - exploring how borders can be changed by people, by nature and by accident.
At 3am, in a very very very small town, a river breaks its banks.
The residents are alerted by Laurie, a teenage boy and the first to notice the flood. Leonard, a local MP, calls a town meeting to announce an immediate evacuation. Led by Margaret, the town’s eldest inhabitant, many of the residents – including Vi, a local mother, and Mick, Laurie’s father – refuse to evacuate. They challenge Leonard’s leadership, electing Margaret as their new leader. Leonard leaves; Margaret, Vi, Mick and Laurie remain.
As time passes and the river keeps rising, the town becomes entirely cut off – an island. Margaret sets about returning the community to a more traditional way of life, recruiting Mick to help her with a community garden. Laurie makes contact with Inge, after Margaret asks him to find a journalist to share the story of the island. However, Inge becomes increasingly suspicious that Margaret’s version of this story may not be the truth.
Vi loses her high-powered job on the mainland and is enlisted by Margaret to organise a pageant honouring the new regime. She ropes in Laurie, forcing him to join the islanders in a ‘duckling dance’, celebrating the newly sacred status of ducks on the island. Meanwhile, Mick is increasingly positioning himself as Margaret’s muscle, throwing rocks at approaching boats to prevent the arrival of ‘outsiders’.
During the pageant, Vi’s oldest child, Rocky, disappears – instigating a search party. Margaret deems the missing Rocky a traitor and Vi is forced into hiding.
The regime on the island becomes increasingly violent, as Margaret’s grip begins to squeeze.