The impact of loss and the difficulty of letting go dominate In Doggerland, a new play by Tom Morton-Smith.
Linus and his sister Marnie arrive in town to search out the father of the woman who saved Marnie's life. Organ donation is usually presented to us in a simplified way, we hear about the grateful patient or the generous donor, but this new play provides a different view.
Marnie's reasons for wanting to meet her donor's family are ultimately selfish as she struggles to adjust to having a "foreign" body inside her. She squashes any suggestions of cellular memory and does not really seem to want to know too much about the person who gave her the heart that now beats inside her; more she wants to know who it is so she can say goodbye.
Jennifer Tan's Marnie seems a lot younger than her twenty-one years. Perhaps a reflection of years of being ill and relying on her brother to look after her, she is child-like. Linus (Benjamin Blyth), meanwhile, is so used to being the father figure that he has forgotten how to be himself.
Clive Moore and Natalie Grady are both excellent as the father and daughter whose relationship has been stumped by tragedy. Clive Moore in particular gives a great performance as Simon, numbed by grief and only going through the motions.
Manchester-based company Box of Tricks know how to pick their writers; Tom Morton-Smith's script is both poetic and philosophical, a thoughtful meditation on the impact of loss. At the start of the play, the mystery of why Marnie and Linus have searched out Simon is a little distracting, especially as their behavior is so strange, but when the reason for their visit becomes clear, there are some really heart-wrenching moments.
By avoiding any over-romantic pitfalls that could come with the subject matter, In Doggerland is a touching and funny play that explores the lives of four people bought together by tragedy and hope.
- Joanna Ing