How To Occupy An Oil Rig
3 stars ***
Northern Stage at St. Stephen’s
At the beginning of this latest show by poet and performer Daniel Bye, coproduced by ARC in Stockton-on-Tees, we in the audience are invited to fashion a little plasticine version of ourselves about an inch and a half high, and then to place it in a little tabletop demonstration that’s taking place on stage, with a tiny placard in hand, bearing the message of our choice. And as it turns out, it’s an opening that speaks volumes about the strengths and weaknesses of the whole show, which is timely and interesting in its proccupation with protest and activism on one hand, and yet strangely over-dependent on a certain hand-knitted charm on the other.
So over a genial 70 minutes, Bye and his co-performer Kathryn Beaumont tell a winning tale of a couple who first meet on an environmental protest, and who greadually become closer as they find themselvews meeting again and again, on ever more serious actions against overweening energy giants and oil companies. There’s some attractive music and fun chacterisation, but not nearly enough politics; and by the end, when the two are conducting a little puppet-sized occupation of a North Sea oil rig, it’s difficult not to feel that an opportunity has been wasted to say something harder-edged, and more seriously entertaining, about one of the key themes of this year’s Fringe – riot, protest, and rebellion.