26th Apr2019

‘Dole: The Series’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Emily Williams, Daniel Lillie, Helen Bruce, Jodyanne Richardson, Irene Marrot, Evie Cole | Written and Created by Robert Trott, George O’Connor | Directed by Robert Trott, Jennifer Borcea, Charles Joslain, George O’ Connor

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Cleopatra Rathbone is a blogger and aspiring writer who believes that life experience, rather than formal training, is the best way to become one of the greats. When failed bookshop owner; Edgar Ernest stumbles into her life, they quickly learn that life experience can bring all kinds of complications… Dole focuses on these kindred lost souls and the friendship they build across a year of job hunting and struggling to get back on track.

Dole is a comedic drama comprised of 4 10-minute episodes, each set over the space of four consecutive Summer months, which introduce audiences to the show’s main characters; the world they inhabit, and the baggage they carry; and they carry some serious baggage – especially Daniel Lille’s Edgar!

But Dole doesn’t focus on the baggage, it’s focused on the burgeoning relationship between Cleo and Edgar. A relationship borne out of desperation, out of boredom, out of mutual understanding. Surprisingly, for such a short series, writer/directors Robert Trott and George O’Connor manage to really generate empathy with the two leads – so much so that by the second episode you’re more than eager to see where this relationship is going and what it will bring to the – frankly monotonous – lives of Edgar and Cleo.

Well I say monotonous lives but Cleo’s is really anything but. At least to her. She’s something of a free-spirit who helps Edgar open up after shutting down emotionally following the death of his wife. And the free-spirited nature of the character is brought perfectly to life by actress Emily Williams, who gives one of the most open, honest performances I think I’ve ever seen. Blurring the line between acting and reality Williams’ performance is easily one of the most compelling of the year. On that same n0te, Daniel Lillie has the hardest, somewhat unenviable, task here: trying to make his character empathetic and likeable in the face of truly sad circumstances – circumstances that have left his character, Edgar, in something of an emotional funk; and its a credit to him that he pulls it off, not to the same success of Williams but its commendable nonetheless.

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The short nature of Dole reminded me very much of the early days of online video, where stories had to be told in a shorter time frame due to bandwidth limitations etc. Since then the concept of storytelling online has developed into long form tales – some of which seem long for longs sake. Stories don’t always need to be 30 minutes or more an episode; with tight scripts, great performances, and a solid plot on which to lay the framework you can still tell stories in a short space of time. It works for short films and it certainly works in the case of Dole: The Series – which is the perfect example of how to tell a compelling story in a short space of time.

Now this might sound contradictory, given how I’ve just said that Dole is a great example of short-form storytelling, but I’d really like to see more from these two characters – be they together in more episodes or perhaps apart, in their own particular life stories. Either way, to see more of Emily Williams’ superb performance would be a pleasure!

Dole: The Series is released on Amazon Prime Video on 30th April 2019.

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