THEATRE REVIEW: Oil starring Anne-Marie Duff


WHERE: Almeida

WHEN: 7/10, press night 14/10, runs to 26/11

We last saw Anne-Marie Duff in Husbands and Sons at the National earlier this year where she gave a gritty northern performance that will be tough to be bettered this year and which brings us here to one of our favourite theatres and a first preview of a new play we’ve been excited about for months.

  • Read on for all the gossip about Carrie Cracknell’s exploration of the mother/daughter relationship

Ella Hickson’s Oil focuses on the mother/daughter relationship between Duff as May and Yolanda Kettle’s Amy.  Scenes are presented to us in chronological order from the discovery of oil in England, its economic importance to us in the 70s and the effect it has on the country’s relationship with others including Persia, Libya and Iraq.

We also move less assuredly into an imagined future where Duff’s 50-something MP mother is under-fire from her daughter over how she has voted for Iraq’s future. Less convincing is when the pair don fat suits for an imagined future where oil is scarce and the planet’s natural resources are near spent.

There are flickers of humour in Hickson’s script but Oil is ultimately far less an engaging new play than Labyrinth which closes 8/10 at Hampstead Theatre and explores a similarly worthy theme but with a more forensic eye and artistic flair.

The central performances are fine and while we’d quite happily pay to see the remarkable Duff in anything it does make us realise how under-used Ellie Haddington is here as Ma Singer and how brilliant consistently she is in everything she does.

Much to recommend Oil then but as a whole it doesn’t quite ignite into an evening to remember.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Almeida Theatre. Tickets
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