Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
AFTER this week’s stark warning from the International Panel on Climate Change, it’s a question millions of us must be asking: how to strike a balance between the everyday responsibilities of lives completely intertwined with the current economic system, and the increasing need to do something to prevent catastrophic climate change. The daughter in Clare Duffy’s new play Arctic Oil is one of the few who has taken direct action, joining fellow environmental campaigners in trying to disrupt the work of companies
now drilling for oil inside the Arctic Circle.
Now though, following the birth of her baby, she is stuck at home on one of Scotland’s northern isles, with a mother who doesn’t believe in climate change at all, and is willing to take some direct action of her own to prevent her daughter from taking time out from motherhood to go on an another Arctic campaign. And the result, in Gareth Nicholls’s taut production, is a tense 65-minute drama in which the two women, locked in a bathroom,engageinabattlesofurious that the daughter ends up unconsciousinthebath,before coming round to admit defeat.
There’s plenty of potential food for thought in Duffy’s play; but in truth, she focuses so intensely on the psychology of this fraught motherdaughter relationship, and is so unduly sympathetic to a mother who shows no respect for her daughter and her views, that the real political and moral issues she raises are never seriously debated at all; in a show that creates a situation so powerful that it sets every member of the audience off on a fierce internal argument, and then somehow fails – despite strong performances from Jennifer Black and Neshla Caplan – to pursue that argument itself.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until 20 October
Jennifer Black and Neshla Caplan battle in the bathroom