30 September to 22 October 2016
Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Written by Coronation Street writer, Debbie Oates, The Ockerbys on Ice premiered at The Dukes, Lancaster and we were lucky enough to see the first show. Performed in the Round Theatre, an intimate area with seating all around the stage, you can really get into the story and feel like you are up in Scotland with the family. The Dukes have a tradition of presenting new work and after a few false starts the play has finally made it to the stage, thanks in part to a crowdfunding campaign and donations. It might have taken a few years to reach the stage but it has certainly been worth the wait.
The play is set in the near future when medical science is racing towards a time when freezing, or vitrifying, a body is possible. Terminally ill Dennis Ockerby, played by David Crellin, and his wife Viv, played by Karen Henthorn, win the chance to have their heads ”frozen” when they die in the expectation that a new, disease free body will be available in the future. They are to be the first to undergo the procedure but will their love last as long as their brains do?
A real comedy, the story explores the feelings that the couple share in Dennis’s final hours and also their relationship with their son Michael, played by Jack Hartley. The writer portrays a middle aged northern couple, married for 30 years, with great humour and accuracy – I could easily imagine couples I know behaving just like the Ockerbys. For me the star of the show was Karen Henthorn who was perfectly cast as Viv Ockerby. I really emphasised with her as she struggled to cope with Dennis’s impending death and the implications of his planned preservation.
With most of the story taking place in a medical room a simple set was bolstered with the use of clever live action video feeds, hospital equipment and background music setting the clinical theme. The audience were involved in the performance, playing the role of the public watching the live internet streaming and also listening to the lecture on medical history given by Dr. Taylor Devine played by Lynsey Beachamp.
We really enjoyed our evening, the play was certainly thought provoking but can be enjoyed as a family drama too. The play is showing at the Dukes until 22 October with the theatre suggesting that the play is suitable for ages 12+.
The Dukes is a lovely theatre and you are made to feel very welcome by the helpful and friendly staff. There is a lovely bar area in the entrance and being in the centre of Lancaster there is plenty of choice for a pre-show drink or meal. There is a car park just across the road and plenty of other car parks just a short walk away.
Tickets cost from £9 to £18.50 (booking fees may apply).
Williamson Park, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 3DZ | 01524 598500