WHENEVER you see the name Tim Firth on any credits for stage, TV or film you know you are in good hands.

From All Quiet On the Preston Front, Calendar Girls and his collaborations with Gary Barlow on the Take That musical - The Band - Tim always stamps his mark with the sharpest of dialogue.

He also created Neville's Island - a hit play and TV production about a bonding outing between middle-class male managers - back in the '90s.

Now he has re-booted it in Sheila's Island with an all-female cast who are on a trek to the Lake District where the staff members from the Pennine Mineral Water Limited are outward-bound, so to speak.

Sadly, it needs a creative compass as this two-hour-and-15-minute dark drama comedy doesn't go anywhere.

Ironically in a play about teamwork that very concept, was needed as two members of the cast had been laid low by Covid and two of the pair team bravely stepped up to the challenge in their places.

Understudies have certainly shone in the arts world during the pandemic and aftermath.

So take a bow Tracy Collier for donning the waterproofs to take on the role of the Sheila of the title and assistant director Emily Jane Kerr who played the brittle, sensitive Fay.

Rina Fatania plays the resourceful Julie and Abigail Thaw is the bossy-boots Denise.

Joanna Read directs a quartet of very different characters who are often dominated by dry ice playing the part of the mist.

Applause is rightly deserved for the clever lighting illuminating and shadowing the stark but effective barren tree-scape and stream rocks created by designer Liz Cooke.

So all looks good on paper, but referring to that need for a compass - it all seems rather pointless as the weary women bicker and battle to be heard above each other leading up to a bonfire night scenario with little fireworks.

Tim's witty sparklers - his one-liners and acute obervations - are, surprisingly, in short supply.

Sheila's Island is at Liverpool Playhouse until Saturday.

Globe Appraisal: Three stars

Intense Comedy

Tickets from the box office until 0151 7088 4776