Social Media

Ivy Tiler: Vicar's Daughter, Squirrel Killer - Royal Shakespeare Company Review

A title that is the most intriguing name, Ivy Tiller: Vicar's Daughter, Squirrel Killer, running as part of the RSC's Mischief Festival (alongside O, Island!). Does it deliver up to the intrigue? Not quite but it's still an interesting piece.

Alex Bhat as Reece and Jenny Rainsford as Ivy Tiller. Photo by The Other Richard

The play by Bea Roberts is set in the picturesque Devonshire village of Manaford Morton where we meet Ivy who is delivering a presentation to primary school children on the dangerous grey squirrels. Ivy forms part of the local Manaford Morton Red Squirrel Action Force (or MMRSAF as they're often referred to) whose mission is to cull the grey squirrel population and allow the native red squirrels to return and flourish in their native habitat.

The presentation quickly takes a dark turn as Ivy shows images of grey squirrels with diseases. This causes teacher Jade to shut things down and asks Ivy to leave. This sets the tone for Ivy's journey throughout the show. She's oft the outsider, even in her own home as her behaviour of the cause of much ire for her father, the local Vicar, and especially after her mother's death. It's that feeling of being the outsider than runs throughout the piece.

It takes the arrival of cousin Garrison, or Gary for short, to help bring Ivy out of her shell. Though their bond is clearly patchy as Garrison himself has just been released from prison. Throughout the whole 85-minute production Ivy rarely fits in and finds herself at a complete loss when the MMRSAF is disbanded as they've completed their mission - something which Ivy refutes. 

Jenny Rainsford as Ivy Tiller. Photo by The Other Richard.
It's difficult for the piece to fully flesh out the characters in the short-running time, it focuses more on the pace of the humour and comedy and it certainly delivers in that department but you feel there's more to learn about the characters.

Jenny Rainsford is magnificent as Ivy. She carries the complexity of the role really well. You believe everything she does has a reason, even the unbelievable things. Nathan McMullan impresses as Garrison matches well with Rainsford's energy. The pair make a believable duo that becomes the heart of the piece.

Jade Ogugua impresses as primary school teacher Jade who becomes a foil for Ivy, particularly in her losing her job at the school as the crossing patrol. Alex Bhat relishes in the comedic moments as MMRSAF member Reece.

Milla Clarke's design is completely different from O, Island! which she also designs. The only remaining set piece from the O, Island! is the use of the room that becomes here Ivy's workshop, full of instruments she uses to dissect the captured grey squirrels hanging their carcasses from a washing line. It's a clever set that excellently uses projection on the backdrop too, this works best for the scenes in the woodlands. Further atmosphere is provided by lighting by Elliot Griggs and sound by Oli Soames. 

It's certainly an intriguing piece and a great piece of new writing. This is what the Mischief Festival is for and what the RSC do so well in their Other Place studio. It's not a mega-hit but it's 85 minutes of well-written darkly comic storytelling. With a bit more work audiences might go nuts for it.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Ivy Tiller: Vicar's Daughter Squirrel Killer plays at The Other Place alongside O, Island until Saturday 5th November 2022. Tickets are available from
Tim Treloar as Clive and Nathan McMullan as Garrison. Photo by The Other Richard

Post a Comment


Theme by STS