Review: The Offing at the Live Theatre- a heartening and enthralling production

An unlikely summer tale of friendship in Paul Robinson's new adaptation of a classic novel

Ruby Taylor
23rd November 2021
Image Credit- Live Theatre

An enthralling adaptation of the original book by Benjamin Myers. 

The Offing, set in Robin Hood’s Bay in the aftermath of World War II, follows the unlikely friendship of Robert and Dulcie. 16 year old Robert has left his home in a mining town in Durham for the summer in search of the sea, and along the way, meets Dulcie, who takes him in and shows him her world of literature, food and wine.  

It is heartwarming to see the friendship unfold between these two characters, who are vibrantly portrayed by James Gladdon and Cate Hamer. They are both kind and generous to one another, with Robert working the meadow for Dulcie, and Dulcie keeping him in books and meals. This innocence of their friendship is emphasized by the backdrop of Robin Hood’s Bay in the summer, as Sally Ferguson on lighting design and Ana Silvera, who composed the music and designed the sound, perfectly simulated this lovely natural environment.  

Image Credit- Live Theatre

However, we soon learn the story is not so idyllic, when we first meet the specter of Romy Langdale, portrayed excellently by Ingvild Lakou. Janice Okoh, the playwright, has adapted this aspect of the book extremely effectively, with Romy acting like a ghost who is never quite there. Romy and Robert are often on the stage at the same time, but never interact; however, we get the sense that all the characters lives are entangled in one another’s.  

"Sally Ferguson on lighting design and Ana Silvera, who composed the music and designed the sound, perfectly simulated this lovely natural environment."  

An interesting aspect of the play is that the age of the actors has little correspondence to the age of the characters they are playing. The timeline of the narrative jumps around, meaning the characters are at many different ages throughout the play; for example Robert goes from being 16 to 90. Interestingly, the souls of the characters seem to be valued much more than the actors looking exactly like their character should.  

Much like how the actors often are not the right age, neither is the cabin that makes up the set, as it goes from being disused to renovated within the story. On stage the set appears in a state of decay, and this design by Helen Goddard works perfectly: the cabin is just another ghost present in the play.  

This was a heartening, mysterious story, that left you falling in love with the souls of the characters over all else. It was so easy to become enchanted and absorbed by the world created, it's definitely worth a watch if you have the chance before its run ends on Saturday 27th November!

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AUTHOR: Ruby Taylor
Sub-editor for Arts. First year English Literature and Creative Writing student.

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