The Offing Review

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough – until 30 October 2021

Reviewed by Craig Peak


This story set just after the Second World War. Robert is a young 16-year-old whose life seems to be mapped out for him. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather all worked down coal pit and Robert is destined to as well.

Robert considers a different future for himself but doesn’t know what. He decides to leave his village in Durham walking towards the coast and finds himself in Robins Hoods Bay and has a chance meeting with Dolcie. A friendship is formed which has a profound effect on Robert and helps him identify who he is and where his true path leads. The friendship also helps Dolcie come to terms with a traumatic event in her past and helps her deal with the difficult emotions related to it.

How do you adapt a successful novel into a 2-hour play? Very very successfully I would say.

Whilst we see a mere glimpse of these characters lives, we experience the colourful and traumatic history, and gain an insight into possibilities the future can hold.

The set is very simple, and at times is Dolcies main house, the cabin studio at the end of the garden and for a short period we are outside in the Citroen car. We believe these places are real because the actors make them real with the help of superb lighting and subtle sound effects.

There are just three characters in the play.

Robert played by James Gladdon, Dolcie played by Cate Hamer and Romy played by Ingvild Lakou.

Did I believe Robert was a 16-year-old, not at first to be honest? However the quality of James acting drew me in quickly and I believed this characteristic.

Then the appearance of the colourful, articulate, and some would describe as bohemian Dolcie. Wild hair and clothes, and a personality to match. Cate appears to relish the role and displays a myriad of emotions with ease. Some of the funniest, saddest, most tearful, and then joyful moments are made possible because of Cates portrayal of Dolcie.

Ingvilds character Romy yes plays a smaller role but is so important to the story that had it not been played so well could have rendered the play disjointed and lost credibility. Her portrayal of a brilliant but so mentally troubled German poet was wonderful.

It’s been so long since I’ve had the opportunity to attend the theatre and The Stephen Joseph Theatre is such a wonderful venue. Covid restrictions lead to reduced audience. It was truly a privilege to watch this play and these actors doing what they love and do so well.

From Roberts opening monologue I was captivated. Watching the story unfold and watching these characters develop was mesmerising. I felt every emotion – I laughed at the subtle humour and welled up at the astonishingly moving parts. Most of all I felt truly satisfied that I had seen great play and performance.