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Crude

Shed 36, Port of Dundee
Four stars

It's like Christmas and a trip to Blackpool at once as the audience for Grid Iron theatre company's latest site-specific extravaganza are bussed out from Dundee city centre to one of several massive sheds used by the city's Port Authority, transformed here into a theatre space. As it is, the array of lights that flank the shed belong to three stationary exploration rigs that tower over the company's exploration of the oil industry.

Inside the shed, video projections at the back of Becky Minto's tiered steel set beam out statistics of how many barrels of oil are drilled during the course of the ninety minute show as several stories play out between a barrage of historical information. Much of the latter in director Ben Harrison's script is provided by Texas Jim, a big-talking cipher of how oil has made a few people like him rich, while the people and places exploited along the way are mere collateral damage.

In the Niger Delta, Tunji Lucas' Joel is fighting for unpolluted water. In the Arctic Circle, Itxaso Moreno's eco-warrior Camila risks life and limb for the cause. And in Scotland, Phil McKee's offshore worker Mike's domestic life is slowly caving in on him. Real life testimonies from the Piper Alpha disaster, a dream sequence involving aerial acrobatics and the odd song complete a dramatic collage which the acoustics of such a vast space sometimes make difficult to hear. In terms of the political intent of such an enterprise, the show's fluidity goes some way to exposing the tangled global web that is woven in order to extract money from the earth, whatever the human cost.

The Herald, October 12th 2016

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