“That’s the thing about being freelance,” says former Young One Adrian Edmondson who is now middle aged in the middle-of-nowhere comedy Neville’s Island in Chichester Festival Theatre’s new Theatre in the Park (September 11-28).
“I rattle around like a lone pea in a can sometimes,” he muses. “Sometimes I stick to the walls. Sometimes I don’t!”
And every now and again, an exciting project will come up, such as Neville’s Island, a play which will create an island (complete with surrounding water) in a tent in a park in a city.
The gist is that four out-of-condition, middle-aged businessmen are sent off on a team-building exercise. All they manage to do is become the first people ever to get shipwrecked on an island in the Lake District.
Which is when the veneer of civilisation starts to slip away.
“It’s a very funny play which has a darker edge,” Adrian says. “I hate it when people talk about a dark edge with things. It makes it sound more important than it is. It’s just a comedy that starts to deal with some important things, as good comedy should.
“It is never farcical. It is all based in reality which is hugely refreshing. Everything could actually happen.
“We are doing one of those dreadful management courses than are supposed to be about bonding, and everyone is soon bonding less than ever.
“There is a lot of Lord of the Flies about it. Lord of the Flies gets mentioned at one point. You have got these four people being sent on the course, and someone has got to be the leader. That causes ructions. It’s a bit like the office hierarchy and the question whether that hierarchy is any use in the real world. Certainly it doesn’t work in this world.
“I am playing Gordon who is a bit miffed that he is not the team captain. Gordon is salt of the earth – or he thinks he is.
“He thinks he is a regular guy, but the play is about how long civilisation lasts given hardship. Gordon is the most acerbic, the most vitriolic of the four, and he is the first one to crack in terms of losing his veneer of civilisation.”
The fact that the play coincides with the release of Adrian’s new album is just happy coincidence: “I just bounce from project to project. That’s one of the joys of being freelance.”
The album is the band’s third in the five years they have been together: “The band happened by accident, but you have got to have the instinct for the accident to happen. I had been looking for it along the way. I have always wanted to be in a band, but I never found a band to be in that seemed real. This seems real, though – the way that we express ourselves.”
Adrian comes to Neville’s Island on the back of a lot of theatre work: “We did a lot of live shows with Bottom.”
His stage credits also include The Rocky Horror Show and Waiting For Godot, a play he loves: “We just thought it was so funny, especially when it is jokes about why we are all here.”
And it was on stage on the pub theatre circuit – long before alternative comedy was dreamt up as a phrase – that Adrian cut his teeth with his future comedy partner and long-time collaborator Rik Mayall.
Tickets from Chichester Festival Theatre: 01243 781312.