Neville’s Island, Cenacle Theatre Company. Tim Firth’s four middle managers on a corporate-sponsored retreat are appropriately dismayed when their boat capsizes, stranding them on a foggy island in Britain’s Lake District. Cold, hunger, and boredom take their toll on the men, but they’re haunted more by the conviction–fueled by such films as Lord of the Flies, Deliverance, and Return to Devil’s Island–that personal revelations, conflicts, and violence will ensue.

Firth’s experience writing for television is evident in his play’s episodic structure, with individual scenes building to climaxes, tempting actors to exhaust their energies too early in the dramatic action. But just when Cenacle director Paul Baio and his cast seem about to run out of steam, they call on reservoirs of vigor, escalating the suspense right up to the unforeseeable but sublimely logical conclusion. Joe Messina as the blustery Gordon, Bob Peterson as the meek Angus, Michael Kott as the fussy Neville, and Peter Lemongelli as the serene Roy make up a perfectly matched ensemble. And Robert Stackley’s sound design and Baio and Daniella Zanin’s set conjure up a pastoral environment teeming with menace and mystery.

–Mary Shen Barnidge