Review: In Doggerland – getting to the heart of the matter

In Doggerland: Benjamin Blyth (Linus) and Jennifer Tan (Marnie). Photograph: Devin Ainslie
21 Nov 2013 @ 10.00 am
| News
In Doggerland: Benjamin Blyth (Linus) and Jennifer Tan (Marnie). Photograph: Devin Ainslie
In Doggerland: Benjamin Blyth (Linus) and Jennifer Tan (Marnie). Photograph: Devin Ainslie

Review: In Doggerland
Venue: Theatre Royal, November 20, 2013

What happens post heart transplant? Do people simply move on, without giving a second thought to the dead stranger who lives on within them? Or does the experience make them question their own existence?

And what of the donor’s families and their struggles? Tom Morton-Smith’s new play In Doggerland explores this emotive subject and its seemingly ignored repercussions.

In Doggerland is an unusual and highly thought-provoking tale of four people brought together through a mixture of loss, grief and morbid curiosity.

Marnie (Jennifer Tan), the recipient of a heart transplant, seeks answers from the family to whom she owes her life, while the family themselves struggle to come to terms with past events and their bleak outcome. Meanwhile, Marnie’s brother and companion Linus (Benjamin Blyth) battles with his own demons and questions life’s responsibilities.

As all four characters interact with one another each one grows and is forced to deal with newfound truths and revelations.

This beautifully poignant story unravels with the help of a hugely talented cast. All four do great justice to the superbly crafted, almost poetic script, which is full of subtlety, wit and a good dose of dark humour.

The family’s father, Simon (Clive Moore), is perhaps the most fascinating character in the play, and his story is a philosophical study on the theme of loss. Rather than rant and rave about his many sufferings, his touching performance will be relatable to many.

The story of his daughter, Kelly (Natalie Grady), is similarly moving and the audience is made privy to her feelings of self doubt as she comes to terms with own sense of loss.

What at first would seem an overly heavy subject for an evening’s entertainment, In Doggerland deals both carefully and admirably with a thorny, often controversial issue. In doing so, Morton-Smith prompts his audience to look at the bigger picture and consider those on both sides of a transplant story.