The hit sitcom ‘Friends’ started ten years ago when we were first introduced to Monica, Rachael, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey and today I am going to compare the sitcom of ‘Friends’ with the play of ‘Neville’s Island’ which was written by Tim Firth. Neville’s Island is not only a play. It has also been recently made into a film starring Timothy Spall, Martin Clunes, Jeff Rawle and David Bamber. ‘Friends’ on the other hand was written and still remains for television and for the past ten years it has been broadcast over the Atlantic to millions of eager viewers both in America and the U. K.
In America ‘Friends’ is broadcast over the television network of NBC compared to the U. K where it is received through Channel 4. When we first observe the film of ‘Neville’s Island’ we are introduced to four businessmen, who, when their boat sinks, find themselves stranded on a small island, called Rampsholme in the middle of the Lake District’s Derwent Water. The Four Characters in Neville’s Island are on a team-building weekend, they are Neville, (Jeff Rawle), has become the elected Captain of the group, who then proves he is unfit for his position when he leads the team in the wrong direction.
He does his best to maintain order in the group’s arguments, and works well as a go-between as he proves to be very reasonable with his fellow peers, and he seems to be the most adjusted member of the group to ‘island life’, He is dressed in an Anorak and wears glasses. He tries his hardest to keep the peace between Angus and Gordon, (Timothy Spall) who is extremely sarcastic towards his fellow peers and seems to pick up on every little flaw in their character, which later show him to be a bully, his cruel sarcasm gives us many funny moments throughout the play of Neville’s island, such as “all Christians are like Radio hams”.
Gordon seems to have many rants at his fellow colleagues most of which result in “handbags at dawn” style tension between him and Angus, (David Bamber) whom at the start of the play; he comes across as a good-natured person who is full of optimism. Angus seems to have dressed out of the camp shop side of his wardrobe so to speak as he is dressed constantly in cagoules, anoraks and knitted hats. Angus turns out to be a bit sad as he seems to bore everyone stiff, with his numerous attempts at cracking jokes.
Also, later in the play where all hope seems to have to been lost he suddenly reveals a hidden sausage, which in the heating of proves to be very funny. He may also later have hindered the groups rescue as he seems to have bought the entire stock of a camping shop and told nobody about it, his shopping list includes a 18-inch knife, climbing rope… and for some reason unbeknown to his fellow standees….. a dinner suit! Roy, (Martin Clunes), is a born-again Christian who has an un-kempt appearance.
Roy has recently returned to work following a prolonged breakdown, after the death of his mother, Lucy, he literally hangs onto his sanity and Gordon’s rant about how old people only become religious because ‘they are scared stiff, and there just grabbing, grabbing, grabbing at the rope, and no-ones holding the other end’ doesn’t help either as this near-enough sends Roy into a relapse, and he disappears into the undergrowth with an 18-inch knife, so the group fear he may do something to harm himself, but later he is found, sat up a tree wearing only his underwear, but after he returns the knife to Neville, they fear he may take his own life again as Angus’ almost ‘mile’ long piece of rope has gone missing, and they think he may hang himself… he also reveals to Neville that he helped his mother to end her own life… Roy is also a keen birdwatcher, and he takes his time on the island to observe a rare falcon, and is called amongst many other things by Gordon……… ‘Doo-lally’
‘Friends’ is all about 6 friends who all live in the same block of apartments in New York, the show takes us through their individual strengths, weaknesses, problems and goals… most of all their intertwining relationships with each other. The characters in friends are Joey Tribbiani – (Matt Leblanc. ) Joey is broad-shouldered, wide-eyed and thick-headed. Joey comes from New York and is a lover who has had many partners. Joey is a not-so-good actor who never has to play-act being a good guy or a better friend, but he wants to hit the big-time as an actor. He is cheeky, and most of his jokes are sexually orientated, followed by hand gestures. Joey is sarcastic.
Chandler Bing – (Matthew Perry) Wise-cracks, and sets off development in characters & storyline. Chandler appears to be over-qualified at work and he seems to be afraid of wife Monica. Chandler gives really bad advice. Ross Geller – (David Schwimmer) Ross is the personification of an intellectual geek as he is an expert in Palaeontology. Ross is still looking for love after 3 divorces. He has always loved Rachael. Ross is quite nerdy, and (most of the time) sticks to the rule book. Rachael Green – (Jennifer Aniston), Rachael comes across as an IT/ Daddy’s girl. She dither’s a lot, and is meant to be with Ross, even though they have drifted apart many times.
Monica Geller Bing – (Courtney Cox Arquette) used to be a high-school fatty, but now has slimmed down to obsessive and cleaning mad Monica. She is a good sister to Ross and a friend to everyone. After marrying Chandler, Monica seems to have made him find his maturity. Phoebe Buffay Hannigan – (Lisa Kudrow) a hippie chick who has led a traumatic life, her mother killed herself, her stepfather went to prison, and she lived on the streets for some of her life. She drives people mad with her out-of-key folk songs that she writes with her guitar. Phoebe can be quite dippy, but she is kind-hearted, a good spirit, and seems to take everyday as it comes. She near enough floats around and I think would have fit in perfectly in the 60’s. – Very off-the-wall.
The sitcom of friends is set in New York and it appears to be aimed at the younger generations of the 90’s and 00’s, this is mainly caused by its humour and that the characters themselves are very young. In comparison to this the play of ‘Neville’s Island’ is set in a remote island in the middle of a lake in the Lake District and its characters are all middle-aged around 40 years old and ‘Neville’s Island’, I think can appeal to all ages as the comedy and mishaps that occur between the four characters of Angus, Roy, Gordon and Neville could almost happen to anybody of any age. The four men in ‘Neville’s Island’ are all executives of a water company and they have been sent on this team-building exercise.
The friendships in either drama are very different, as the 6 friends in ‘Friends’ are all immensely close and after being so for ten years they appear to have a love for each other which comes with a bond that makes their friendships so special to them, even though the group is half men, half women apart from sexual tension between Monica and Chandler, Ross and Rachael this appears to not affect their friendships whatsoever. These bonds of friendship could not be more different than in the play of ‘Neville’s Island’ by Tim Firth as the four colleagues seem to have been forced to be together and this creates lots of tension between them particularly with Roy and Gordon with his rants about “all Christians are like radio-hams”.
The four colleagues seem to be each putting up with each other constantly and we get a sense that if they had not worked in the same workplace, these four individuals would never had considered becoming friends with each other. The Two drama’s of ‘Friends’ and ‘Neville’s Island’ have been written in the same decade and they include many moral issues and information about current affairs for example the mood of ‘Friends’ was slightly changed for a while during the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World trade centres. The home life/lifestyle has affected the personalities of all the characters in either drama such as Phoebe is slightly mad and sometimes eccentric. This may have been caused by her circumstances as a child as her mother killed herself, her stepfather went to prison, and she lived on the streets for some of her life.
In ‘Neville’s Island’ we see Gordon who appears to bully most people he sees by picking up on every flaw in their character and using it as ammunition against them, Gordon appears to be in denial as in fact he is very lonely but refuses to admit this. There are many themes/issues that arise from the two dramas of ‘Neville’s Island’ and ‘Friends’ such as Status; in ‘Friends’ the 6 characters stand almost as individuals and they respect each other because of it and apart from minute outbursts from such characters as Monica giving rants about “Crummies”, but this is simply a part of Monica’s character and does not distinguish her as having more power over fellow friends. In contrast to this there is use of Status/Power in ‘Neville’s Island’, and this comes mainly from the character Gordon bullying people and bossing them about.
Gordon is not however the chosen leader of the group, who is Neville but Gordon, underestimates his given authority on the island and simply does what he wants and says what he wants regardless of their feelings. Gordon always makes sarcastic and negative comments about his fellow colleagues; this makes him feel superior and powerful to the rest of the group. Friendship is a key theme in both pieces of drama as in ‘Friends’, the entire purpose of the sitcom is to display the friendship between the 6 characters however ‘Neville’s Island’ meddles with the idea of leaving work-place politics behind in order the group of them to survive, whilst on the island though we realise that this group of colleagues don’t actually like each other and seem to have been forced into this team-building weekend.