By Emma Forsyth

From the moment the curtains open, the industrious tale of the age of oil begins. It is an age characterised as the matriarchy taking over the patriarchy where no sacrifice is too great to ensure that a mother can give her child a better future. Be prepared to be transported through era after era as humankind wrestles through tragedies otherwise known as industrialisation and capitalism.

Hailing from London’s Almeida Theatre, this explosively ambitious play by Ella Hickson is ablaze with tales of love, colonialism, industrialisation, capitalism, misogyny, racism, and climate change that for better or worse have shaped our current present. Spanning over 160 years across the planet, through Tehran, Hampstead, Baghdad, and then back to Cornwall, Oil is the time travelling story of Mother May (Hayley McElhinney) and her daughter Amy (Abbey Morgan) as they navigate an ever-shifting world.

Brilliantly directed by Adam Mitchell, this story is portrayed in a way that ensures that we keep looking for the light in the darkness to pave the way for a better future and a new age. Yet, at the same time, never stop relying on the singular heart-warming resource that will never fail us, love.

Haylee McElhinney beautifully portrays the heart-wrenching sacrifices made by May as she fights for a better future and portrays a powerful character evolution throughout the eras. Abbey Morgan’s performance of Amy is also incredibly spell bounding as she perfectly depicts the next generation’s attitude to frustratedly yet tirelessly fighting for a less corrupt existence. The rest of the cast (Michael Abercromby, Will Bastow, Grace Chow, St John Cowcher, Polly Low, Tinashe Mangwana, Will O’Mahony, and Violette Ayad) does an incredible job of telling the story of Oil whilst balancing the heavy themes present with light-hearted comedic elements such as Physical Slapstick to ease the tension for the audience.

One of the most spectacular parts of the show is the incredibly designed evolving stage sets that immediately encapsulate you in the very different time eras present in the play. The brilliant Zoe Atkinson has done it again! Not to mention the incredibly powerful use of sound-by-sound designer Melanie Robinson to mark a shift in the industrious age of Oil.

Grab your friends, family or just yourself before the 27th for an immersive educational experience about the age of Oil!

Five out of Five Pelicans!

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