Writer: Daniel Bye with Kathryn Beaumont and Jack Bennett
Music: Jamie Fletcher
Director: Dick Bonham and Sarah Pushon
Reviewer: Gemma Hirst
Imagine if the Tweenies, Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men or any other children’s TV show turned into a piece of political performance and it was to be played live at Northern Stage, then How To Occupy an Oil Rig would be the result.
Children’s programmes usually teach children about Maths, Science or English. This play teaches life lessons, such as how to avoid becoming romantically involved with an undercover police officer, how to occupy an office, how to crash a boardroom meeting and of course the main topic which, should you ever need to, is how to occupy an oil rig.
Lulled into a false sense of security early on, the audience are tempted into the theatre by some play dough, and the fun task of moulding it into a mini version of themselves. With play dough doppelgangers now set, they become the main feature and prop to begin the play. The audience are then quite literally bent and moulded into shape, conforming to the rules of the actors on stage, which in this instance were a group of protesters represented through these colourful bits of dough. It is difficult to know how to react to being represented as a piece of children’s arts and crafts; the idea is for the dough to be a metaphorical extension of ourselves, as the audience experience everything the dough is put through.
The play brought a whole new concept to the idea of political performance, as it was almost as if the art of protesting was a performance in itself. How To Occupy an Oil Rig is an interactive handbook about how to go about protesting for change, and the issues that you believe in. There are so many building blocks and rehearsals needed for change, and this play forces you to question any preconceptions you may have. It inspires change, is thought provoking, and uses a very clever and visual medium to get the message across. This message can be a little sobering at times, but overall the production is well balanced by humour. How To Occupy An Oil Rig is a well-rounded, unexpectedly good little play, and worth 1 hour and 10 minutes of anyone’s time.
Runs until: 17th March 2014