Skip to main content

Arctic Oil

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

The earth moves ever so slightly in Clare Duffy’s new play, commissioned for this Traverse Theatre production by Edinburgh’s new writing theatre with the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities while Duffy was a fellow there. The action takes place in the bathroom, where mother and daughter Margret and Ella are preparing for Ella’s temporary departure from the isolated Scottish island where they both live, with Margret left holding the baby.

Ella is not going to her best friend’s wedding as she says. She is going to save the world, an environmental activist standing firm on the frontline, protecting the earth’s natural resources from being plundered by oil-hungry forces for whom money is all that matters. But what about everything she leaves behind, Margret and her baby included? What or who matters most?

As Margret locks them both in the bathroom, this age-old conundrum between personal and political loyalties are fought over for sixty-five minutes of cross-generational sparring as worried mothers and rebellious daughters have done since time immemorial. Taking place in more or less real time, Nicholls’ production brings out a pair of nuanced performances by Jennifer Black as Margret and Nesha Caplan as Ella, who are onstage for the play’s full duration.

If things threaten to go a little bit grand guignol mid-way through, it is only to knock some kind of sense into the pair of them, who are both as good and as bad as each other in their relationship with the responsibilities of being a grown-up. If the bigger, braver life-saving causes they both aspire too are frustratingly just out of reach, the more mundane but just as life-changing first-world problems they must square up to provide some kind of salvation.

The Herald, October 12th 2018



Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…