Blue Brook Productions

The Dolphin Crossing

Adapted and directed by Ed Viney

Adapted from Jill Paton-Walsh’s novel of the same name, Blue Brook Productions’ new play The Dolphin Crossing, is a warm and touching tribute to the Miracle of Dunkirk.

Between the 17th of May and the 4th of June in 1940 over 300,000 French and British soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk by private fishing boats, pleasure cruisers and merchant vessels.

Set in the build-up to the 1940 evacuation The Dolphin Crossing tells the story of Pat and John, two adolescent boys (played by Nik Howden and Harry Livingstone) who find themselves unlikely friends and heroes in the Miracle of Dunkirk.

The intimate space of The Brewery is the perfect setting for this small story with a big impact. With a collection of period artefacts scattered around the stage, the space successfully induces that feeling of claustrophobia associated with adolescence (especially in a small seaside town in the midst of war). Aged trestles are used to denote scene changes and beautifully represent the eponymous boat, yet in practice there was little fluidity and their use was generally rushed, unclear and sloppy at times.

The story is narrated by the character John as an older man (depicted by voiceover provided by Tim Pigott-Smith).  This is a well-meaning, but misplaced choice. Every voiceover drags down the pace of the performance, whilst cutting off any connection the actors make with the audience.  My viewing was on opening night, so perhaps this balance between tech and live performance may find a better balance further into the run.

This was very much an ‘opening night’ performance. Energy was delicate and erratic with some performances shaky and uncertain. Despite this, Harry Livingston was charming and endearing as the posh and kind-hearted John and Nik Howden, although inconsistent in his performance, showed a strong and touching core as London evacuee, Pat.

This is a heart-warming piece, with much to like about it and I wholly encourage audiences not to miss it.

The Dolphin Crossing is playing until the 28th of July at The Brewery at the Tobacco Factory Theatre Performance Time is at 8.15pm with the performance lasting 1.15mins. Ticket prices are £10 and £8 concession. To book tickets ring 0117 902 0344.

(***) Three Stars

Alison Farina