A couple of weeks ago I went into London with my mum to the Almeida Theatre to see their production of ‘OIL’, written by Ella Hickson. I didn’t know what to expect with this play: the programme gave absolutely nothing away (only filled with a list of cast and crew and a couple of essays about the oil industry), and I knew it had received mixed reviews. But from the moment I stepped inside the auditorium I was very excited.
The story was unrealistic but that didn’t matter to me – instead the plot was socially and politically charged, questioning the ethical issues of the oil industry. Plus, the acting performances made the time-travelling nature to the storyline work well.
The acting of May (played by Anne-Marie Duff) and her daughter Amy (Yolanda Kettle) got better and better as they moved from time to time. I really liked seeing the development of the oil industry contrasted by the deterioration of their relationship – which was excellently performed.
What stood out for me most in this performance though was the use of technology and its unconventional stage set up. They used microphones for live voiceovers during scene changes – not something that I have ever come across before. They also used projections onto curtains and interesting lighting. The use of space was innovative too, with open wings around the stage. The actors would sit here and watch the scenes on-stage before they came on the stage, as well as being used as stage-hands passing props on and off stage (so very Brechtian – theatre nerd alert!).
This play mixed reviews for various reasons – but as an English student studying theatre practices this was a brilliant piece to watch! Although I understand why it might not be a show liked by everyone, if you like new theatre and are open-minded then I would definitely recommend this play.