Yolanda Kettle: ‘Anne-Marie Duff and I talk about everything and are very open with each other’

Yolanda Kettle in Oil at the Almeida. Picture: Miles Aldridge

Yolanda Kettle in Oil at the Almeida. Picture: Miles Aldridge - Credit: Archant

Yolanda Kettle talks to Zoe Paskett about Oil, a new play about our depleting resources set to open at the Almeida

Anne-Marie Duff in Oil at the Almeida. Picture: Miles Aldridge

Anne-Marie Duff in Oil at the Almeida. Picture: Miles Aldridge - Credit: Archant

“We’re used to being able to get in the car and drive it to the shops quickly. We’re used to being able to heat our house. We’re used to so many things. So many things come from oil that we don’t realise.

“How will we cope when it’s not there?”

A new play is set to delve straight into our depleting fossil fuels.

Starring Anne-Marie Duff and Yolanda Kettle as a mother and daughter, this “epic, hurtling crash of empire, history and family”, written by Ella Hickson and directed by Carrie Cracknell, is making its world premiere at the Almeida.

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“Oil is certainly at the heart of the play but what we’re really exploring is the relationship,” says Hackney local Kettle. “The relationship between oil and the western world. How it’s really shaped the way we live and how it will continue to shape it.

“It is running out, we all know it’s running out.”

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Playing Amy, the daughter of Duff’s May, who works in the oil industry, Kettle’s character struggles to come to terms with her mother’s job.

“It’s deeper than a simple hatred of what she does because there’s so much more at the heart of this mother-daughter relationship. There’s a huge respect for her. Her mum was always a person who told her to be everything that she can be and do things to the best of her abilities.”

While on the surface the play may appear difficult to relate to, Kettle empathises with the tension between Amy and May.

“My relationship with my mother was fraught for so many years, as most people’s is, especially when you’re a teenager. You say horrible things to your parents but you still love them. There’s a deep, deep love there.”

She feels “supported” acting alongside Duff, one of her favourite actors (Suffragette, Nowhere Boy), and says that building a convincing bond between them was easy.

“We laugh so much and it’s made for a really happy rehearsal room. It’s facilitated that mother daughter relationship because she is so warm. We get along and we can talk about it and we’re very open with one another.”

The timeline of the play is unconventional, stretching from 1889 into the future, a “bold, exciting and ambitious” approach. The cast had to let go of looking at it as a literal piece of theatre, says Kettle.

“We’re being very honest and upfront with the audience and hopefully it’s going to make it more exciting.”

Oil opens at the Almeida Theatre October 7 to November 26. Tickets: almeida.co.uk

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