Sara Crowe and Judy Flynn star in Tim Firth's new play Sheila's Island touring to Derbyshire

Olivier Award winner Sara Crowe is among the cast of a new play from Calendar Girls writer Tim Firth that is heading for Derbyshire.

By Gay Bolton
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 5:30 am
Sheila's Island stars Judy Flynn and Sara Crowe, flanked by fellow actresses  Rina Fatania and Abigail Thaw (photo: Ollie Rosser and Michael Wharley).
Sheila's Island stars Judy Flynn and Sara Crowe, flanked by fellow actresses Rina Fatania and Abigail Thaw (photo: Ollie Rosser and Michael Wharley).

Sara will be treading the boards in Sheila’s Island at Derby Theatre from March 22 to 26, 2022.

She won the Olivier Award in 1991 for her supporting role in Private Lives at the Aldwych Theatre. Sara has performed in Calendar Girls the Musical on the UK tour and in the West End. She was cast in the smash-hit film Four Weddings and a Funeral in which she played the first bride, Laura.

The cast of Sheila’s Island is led by Judy Flynn, best known for her roles in television’s The Brittas Empire, Dinnerladies, Call The Midwife and Shameless. Performers include Eastern Eye Award-winner Rina Fatania (Waking/Walking, Kiln Theatre; Dead Dog in a Suitcase, UK and international tour) and Abigail Thaw (Endeavour), the daughter of the late John Thaw who starred in television’s Inspector Morse and The Sweeney.

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Rooted in the everyday lives of four women finding themselves truly out of their comfort zones, the comedy examines what lies beneath the superficiality of office relationships. With vulnerability, viciousness, painful honesty and great wit, we can all (female or male) see some of ourselves in Sheila, Denise, Fay and Julie.

Bonfire night 2019 and the four work colleagues are Team C in Pennine Mineral Water Ltd.’s annual outward bound team-building weekend. Somehow, marketing manager Sheila has been nominated team leader, and, using her cryptic crossword solving skills, has unwittingly stranded her team on an island in the Lake District. As the mobile batteries die, and cold and hunger take over, our intrepid heroines find themselves called on to manufacture escape routes using cable ties and spatulas and create a rescue flag with plastic plates and a toasting fork. Is it possible to build an adequate night shelter with a prom dress and a sleeveless jumper? Is there an I in Team? And do endless verses of Kumbaya really keep up spirits?

This sparkling, sharp-witted comedy, directed by Joanna Reid, is akin to The Office meets Lord of the Flies meets Miranda.

Tim Firth, whose writing credits for theatre nclude Kinky Boots, The Band and Our House, said: “As a male writer I initially thought what happens on the island could only happen between men. It took Joanna Read to remind me that shoddy, childish and viciously destructive behaviour is not the exclusive preserve of the male sex.”

Joanna Read, who is chief executive of Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, said: “I’ve had a very enjoyable time demonstrating to Tim quite how mean women can be. I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented, well-known cast. They have so much comedy experience between them it’s going to be hysterical working together.”

Sheila’s Island has a recommended viewing age of 13+ years.

Tickets start at £16, go to

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