The Ockerbys on Ice

Debbie Oates

The Dukes

The Dukes

From 30 September 2016 to 22 October 2016

Review by Denis W McGeary

Joe Sumsion, the Artistic Director of The Dukes chose Debbie Oates's play to mark the end of his time at The Dukes before he leaves early in 2017 to develop his freelance career.

The Ockerbys on Ice is a love story showing life and end of life tied in with a powerful ethical discussion on medical development.

Dennis Ockerby, played by David Crellin, is terminally ill and has consented to be a guinea pig in a radical new procedure. This will be his biggest adventure in what has been a very quiet and normal life punching tickets on the railways.

His wife, Viv, is struggling to understand what is happening and how it will affect her now and, possibly, in the future. Dennis had his dreams, mainly unfulfilled, and plans—well he built a shed. He is warm and funny, a nice chap to chat to. He is also apprehensive and frightened of what is going to happen and wants Viv to be there when he returns to life. Viv, Karen Henthorn, is warm, homely and frightened.

The Svengali of the piece, Dr Taylor Devine (Lynsey Beauchamp) is in a race to be the first person to succeed in a cutting edge procedure. As the story develops, we learn that that there is a close personal, not just professional, need to be the first. Will Dr Devine win? Will Viv sign up to participate in the experiment? What really happened to Dennis and Val’s son Michael?

The Dukes has established a role to encourage original Northern drama, and The Ockerbys On Ice was workshopped and developed at The Dukes.

A strong and interesting piece that builds the pace gradually with humour, warmth and some serious and chilly ethical considerations.