Crude Prospects is a play that frustratingly both intrigues and baffles. The scriptwriting is imaginative with imagery evoked quite beautifully but the plot leaps about with the fourth wall frequently broken.
Described as a "kicked-up Western gone north" there is certainly plenty of drama as Brett goes on a journey to find Kathy, a childhood friend who is working on an oil rig in Alaska.
Kathy appears to have mysteriously disappeared which is why police officer Wheeler takes so much interest in Brett’s search. As she rides into town, injured and riding a stolen horse the odds seem to be stacked against her.
Curiously, although we are given plenty of back-story through long flashback scenes, the characters remain one-dimensional and it is hard to be drawn into the world of the play.
Political issues such as climate change, corporate greed and governmental bureaucracy are dabbled with but only slightly expanded upon and, although we learn a little about Brett and Kathy’s friendship, the conclusion feels rushed and unsatisfying.
The cast work hard throughout the piece creating both primary and secondary characters and do manage to milk some humour from the script. There is little character development, however, so they are not easy to invest in or care about.
The suspended screens projecting the barren environment do an excellent job of suggesting the harsh climate and the inclusion of live guitar does add to the lethargic atmosphere.
The premise is interesting, the language poetic and the performances confident but unfortunately Crude Prospects doesn’t quite deliver as with comedy Russians, pantomimic oil prospectors and an activist dressed as a polar bear there is too much going on to tackle any political or emotional points in any great depth.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston