Writer: Tom Morton-Smith
Director: Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder
Reviewer: May Mellstrom
“Home is where the heart is” repeats twenty-one year old Marnie as she stands on a gradually eroding coastline looking out across an expanse of water, where once there stood a village and lived a family that would become inextricably linked with her own. The homecoming in Tom Morton-Smith’s new play is not what you would expect however and he weaves a moving tale of love, loss and identity.
Marnie and her brother Linus have sought out the initially reluctant Simon and his daughter Kelly; the reason is not given away in the promotional materials and therefore nor will it be here. Information is slowly unveiled as the first Act progresses and it is when the mystery is revealed that the play starts to take shape and evolves into an intimate character study of four people attempting to deal with their own grief and the shape of their lives to come.
The characters immediately feel real; they have their flaws, insecurities and vulnerabilities that make them instantly relatable. The quality of the acting is excellent throughout; Jennifer Tan gives an assured performance as the inquisitive Marnie and Benjamin Blyth is likeable as elder brother Linus. They are matched by the sensitive performances of Clive Moore as Simon and Natalie Grady as Kelly, characters that have become distant due to their different ways of coping with their grief.
Morton-Smith’s dialogue includes poetic and philosophical musings on the nature of identity and individuality but can also be beautifully simple, encapsulating an entire gamut of emotions in a few words. Hannah Tyrrell-Pinder’s direction allows the scenes to evolve naturally and the sound design by Chris James and composer Chris Hope is atmospheric and situates the action appropriately.
A minor criticism would be that there does feel like there is more to explore. For example, the story is told mainly through a series of two-handers and it would have been interesting to see the four characters interact together more. Some plot strands also remain unresolved, such as the apparent absence of Linus and Marnie’s own parents.
This is a strong production however, and with occasional flashes of humour In Doggerland never seems bleak and instead considers a serious subject with sensitivity. Box of Tricks Theatre Company has discovered a touching and heartfelt new play and prove themselves to be a theatre company to watch.