Accidental Birth of An Anarchist

Luke Oldfield’s Accidental Birth of an Anarchist at The Space on the Isle of Dogs tells of two novice activists from The People’s Movement to Protect the Planet who get jobs on a North Sea oil rig with the sole intention of staging a sit-in protest.

Even that famous willing suspension of disbelief doesn’t carry the day for this play.

Alice (Aurea Williamson) and Lia (Pip O’Neill), working from within, rather easily discover the code that will open the door to what is presumably the operational centre of the facility that contains vital instrumentation for it to function and be safe. Believing they have a window of opportunity in the security rotas to enter the room and glue themselves in, they nevertheless come unstuck when the Captain (Michael Jayes) makes an unscheduled visit. Alice knocks him out, despite their commitment to non violence. He quickly comes round and after some chat they raise him from the floor and tie him up in a chair. Loosely secured, they are able to explain their intentions, albeit rather vaguely.

What follows is a series of conversations about companies putting profits over lives, the state of the planet, the rights of protesters, the nature of activism as opposed to terrorism and just how many years the women might spend in prison once all this is over. Veganism, pizzas and Tupperware also manage to enter the fray. Released from his bondage, shades of Stockholm Syndrome seem to beset the Captain and ultimately there is a reconciliation as the rig, in the midst of adverse weather and a possible military intervention, faces a massive technical glitch that could destroy it. The explosive noises and the theatre filling with smoke suggest at least one of those things happened to end the tale.

Director Neil Sheppeck, assisted by Francesca Boccanera, has chosen a rectangular thrust stage on which to set the play, perhaps to suggest the confines of the control room, but it brings with it the associated issues of blocking. In some cases this might not be an issue, but given the often poor enunciation and low-level delivery of the cast it doesn’t always work well. While the play tries to link into current environmental concerns, the activism of the two women seems to have come from some dizzy, ill-conceived, drawing-room conversation or text-book guide to protesting. It lacks the passion and depth of people truly committed to the environmental cause. Hence, there is a huge credibility issue surrounding them and why the Captain, who in Jayes’ lacklustre portrayal seems to volunteer himself as a hostage, doesn’t just walk out of the situation and have them arrested.

In a play that has adapted the title of Dario Fo’s famous work, some elements of his style might have been expected. Instead, we have a far-fetched incident of two would-be, yet very unlikely, anarchists, without any elements of bawdy slapstick or the use of alienation effect, both of which might have given much-needed extra dimensions to this unconvincing plot and pedestrian production. Even that famous willing suspension of disbelief doesn’t carry the day for this play.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Richard Beck

Chelsea Theatre

Juliet & Romeo

★★★★★
English National Opera

HMS Pinafore

★★★
50 Earlham St

The Art of Banksy

★★★★★
Charing Cross Theatre

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

★★★
Finborough Theatre

The Sugar House

★★★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

Footfalls & Rockaby

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

An anarchist – activist or terrorist? A darkly funny play by Luke Ofield. Two novice activists get jobs on a North Sea oil rig with the sole intention of staging a sit in protest. Trapped in a room full of drilling instruments and forced to negotiate, the lines of protest, activism and terrorism are debated, as the threat of military action looms closer. As the world is torn between wildfires and flooding, this play couldn’t be any more timely.

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets