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Arctic Oil

Traverse Theatre

We’re dirty. We’re messy. We die. That’s life. Read more …

On a remote Scottish island, an estranged mother and daughter are at loggerheads over how best to save their children. While Ella fights for her son's future, her mother Margret is terrified that Ella’s environmental activism will her get killed. Trapped together until one of them gives in or lashes out, it quickly becomes clear that not all mothers know best. 

Around them, at the mercy of the brutal North Sea and Mother Nature, their close-knit community is being pushed to the brink in a world which is changing too fast for them to survive.

The critical consensus

Nicholls’ production brings out a pair of nuanced performances by Jennifer Black as Margret and Nesha Caplan as Ella.

****(*)Neil Cooper, Coffee-Table Notes, 10/10/2018

Arctic Oil skirts around the issues before being diverted into a schmaltzy generation-gap drama.

**(*)(*)(*)Mark Fisher, The Guardian, 10/10/2018

While Arctic Oil has a admirable goal, it lacks impact.

***(*)(*)Rachael Hickman, The Wee Review, 11/10/2018

Arctic Oil uses mother and daughter in conflict to cut through to political topics of current consequence. Its conversations are difficult and compelling but do force inconsistencies into the drama. It is, regardless, an intelligent piece from an ambitious team.

***(*)(*)Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller, Edinburgh 49, 13/10/2018

The two performances are confident, with Nicholl's pacing the action through a series of ebbs and flows that reveal the pulls of love and frustration that drive this relationship.

***(*)(*)Gareth K Vile, The List, 16/10/2018

The piece feels like an odd choice for a main-stage production at the Traverse. Its themes are timely, certainly, but its modesty of scale and ambition limits its impact.

**(*)(*)(*)Allan Radcliffe, 12/10/2018

Traverse associate director Gareth Nicholls tries and (unavoidably) fails to bring some energy to a script that is unimaginative, insipid and lacking in conviction.

Mark Brown, Scottish Stage, 18/10/2018

When it twists round to a surprise ending, the only real surprise is how trite and utterly condescending to its audience the twist is.

**(*)(*)(*)Thom Dibdin, All Edinburgh Theatre, 18/10/2108

Features about Arctic Oil

Theatre preview: Playwright Clare Duffy on her climate change drama Arctic Oil

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, 08/10/2018

Where and when?

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from Saturday October 6, 2018, until Saturday October 20, 2018. More info:

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