STAGE REVIEW: The Offing @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (11.11.21) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Not quite sea, not quite sky, the Offing is where ocean and atmosphere meet; a hazy band in the distance falling apart when we peer too close, a place where what is and what could have been merge.

In Robin Hoods Bay, we meet Dulcie, a vibrant and well-heeled older woman haunted by the memory of her lover Romy. When Robert, a sixteen-year-old wanderer from the industrial heartlands, finds his way to her home, Dulcie is confounded by his unwitting romanticism. But, as the poet in Robert flourishes, the spirit of Romy awakens, and a confrontation with lost love looms.

Based on the acclaimed 2019 novel by Benjamin Myers and directed by Paul Robinson, the production feels oddly expansive considering the intimate setting. Sally Fergusons flowing lighting design infuses a fusty old cabin with a dream-like state, and the past is very much present as characters separated by time yet connected by space share the stage.

Pivoting around the idea that no one is ever truly gone, the Offing is a touching paean to the indelible mark others make on us

Here in a building as consumed by memory as it is about to be by the earth itself, we find all three players caught in their own personal Offing – between the lover of the past and the great romances of the future, between carefree naïveté and life beneath the earth as a miner, even between life and death.

A rocky start bordering on the twee opened up much like any relationship does, the carefully-curated front of Dulcie eroding over time as she and Robert reveal their authentic, often very funny, selves.

Cate Hamer is engrossing as Dulcie, drawing us in beyond her effete exterior to the radiant soul within, while James Gladdon is all knockabout charm and simmering intellectualism bursting to break free. Caught between both, Ingvild Lakou is spectral and vivid as Romy, the poet condemned to live in a moment where she will never be truly appreciated.

The Offing strikes at the heart of all of us who have experienced someone entering our lives and leaving a mark so indelible that even when they leave, they remain imprinted in our home, our heart, and even our very atoms.

Pivoting around the idea that no one is ever truly gone, the Offing is a touching paean to the indelible mark others make on us. A moving meditation on love and loss, and a tale of two great love affairs – one platonic, one romantic, told in parallel and sitting alongside one another as the broiling sea sits with the distant sky.

The Offing is at Live Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 27th November

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