The Scotsman - - Reviews -

Arc­tic Oil

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

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