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Oily Cart

Picture by Gina Print, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company

In a Pickle

An Oily Cart production commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company

A total theatre experience for children aged 3 to 5, and their families and friends, inspired by The Winter’s Tale. Join us on a voyage of discovery through the landscapes of Shakespeare's imagination and the music of his language.

Our adventure begins in the woolly pastures of the Shepherdess and her flock of sheep, who are having a party to celebrate the sheep shearing. When they come across a lost baby, they have no idea what to do - but surely the children can help! Following clues, together we will sail the salty sea to the mysterious royal court in search of a happy ending. There are many sensory delights, including beautiful costumes, enchanting live music, lovely perfumes and delightful textures, along the way.

IN A PICKLE was first performed as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012. Following a Christmas run at the Unicorn Theatre in 2012, it toured the UK in 2013. There was a Christmas run at artsdepot in 2016, and a UK and US tour in 2017.

Listen to music from this show

Oily Cart really are masters at immersive, original and important theatre-making for young audiences. Not only that, they really cater for the grown-ups too. This story was moving and magical.

Curious Mum 

The show sparkles with the sharpness of its imagination and the clarity of its design, and it is for this reason that watching is a delight for children and adults alike.

A Younger Theatre 

It is a show full of visual, aural and contact experience, as delightful for accompanying adults as for its target audience, but, like all Oily Cart performances, is guided by careful observation of audience members to approach them in a way that is welcome and sensitive to individual responses.

British Theatre Guide

It introduced the children to Shakespeare in such a gentle way and made it all come to life.  I shall definitely be taking the children to see another production by Oily Cart as soon as we can – and I’m so glad we didn’t go to the panto instead!

The Newby Tribe 

Claire de Loon’s set and costume designs are sumptuous, and cleverly weave in Tudor influences

Children's Theatre Reviews 

Another lovely show from the loveliest of companies, one that has remained at the forefront of British theatre for over three decades.

The Guardian ****

This is a lovingly lavish production which could just produce a new generation of Shakespeare lovers.

The Journal

The combination of storytelling, dressing up, dance and puppetry was simple, clever and inventive, the harmonious performance style making it far more than the sum of its parts. In A Pickle is theatre at its playful best: destined to create strong, dreamlike memories of Shakespeare’s landscapes in the young audience - something older fans could love too.

What's on Stage *****

The most beautifully produced children's performance I have ever seen: professional, engaging, imaginative. 

Audience feedback, artsdepot, London

Completely wonderful all-surrounding experience. I felt the children were getting as meaningful an experience as they will from any adult performance of Shakespeare in later life. It was a complete joy to watch their faces and to enjoy the rich experience myself.

Audience feedback, artsdepot, London

Spectacular - never had an experience like this. Totally immersive.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

My 5 year old loved every second of it. She had a smile from head to toe for the hour.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Land of Lights

A splendidly-coloured hot air balloon floats over a miniature landscape.  Where have all the little people gone?  Perhaps the tiny balloonist can tell us. With the help of our audience, the adventure begins as we journey across several distinctive worlds, each with their own textures and smells - our destination being the magical and twinkly LAND OF LIGHTS.

Oily Cart presents this show for 3-5 year olds and their families, jam-packed with live music, puppets and a medley of wonderlands, all leading us to a sparkling finish. 

Following a Christmas run at artsdepot in 2015, LAND OF LIGHTS embarked on a national tour in 2016.

Listen to music from this show

Totally engaging – a gentle, multisensory, immersive theatre for pre-schoolers.

The Stage

This 50-minute interactive show makes for an entertaining and in many ways magical introduction to theatre for the very young.

The Guardian

With its careful, surprising details, dazzling costumes and committed cast, it’s not the theatre we say goodbye to when the show ends, but a treasured glimpse of a magical, hidden land.

A Younger Theatre

If Oily Cart did run a country, I’d move there tomorrow. For now, I’m happy to be first in line to their shows.

Children's Theatre Reviews

Oily Cart’s new show, currently touring, is aimed at children aged 3 to 5 and their families and offers a colourful piece of storytelling to excite the imagination, stimulate investigation and actively involve every child in the audience.

British Theatre Reviews

You really feel as if you’ve been transported to a magical and surreal world. There is always something to grab your attention, something unexpected to make you smile.

Curious Mum

Just beautiful. If only all children's theatre could be this magical, creative and unique. It was a real pleasure to watch and be part of. 

Audience feedback, The Gulbenkian, Canterbury

Oily Cart are streets ahead of other children's theatre companies because everything about your shows is magical, unexpected and original. The music is always captivating, lighting and set beautiful and absorbing, love that your performers are diverse and engaging, love that you work in the round so it's always immersive and otherwordly... I could go on! Big fan!

Audience feedback, Stratford Circus, London

Probably the best kids' show we have ever seen. A wonderfully original, tactile adventure to spark a child's imagination. More like this please!

Audience feedback, the egg, Bath

Absolutely outstanding production and my little boy was completely absorbed, mesmerised and loved every second. In fact, he had such a great time he asked if we could go back again tomorrow! He hasn't stopped talking and laughing about the show all night - thank you so much for such a special, magical time.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Oily Cart is wonderful. Everything you do is magical. A real gem and a pleasure to have you in north Wales.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

This was the most charming and creative children's show I've ever seen! I will recommend to everyone. Absolutely wonderful and original.

Audience feedback, artsdepot, London

There was an Old Woman

An Oily Cart production in association with the Southbank Centre

There’s a problem with shoes. They keep getting mixed up. That man has a welly on one foot, and a fluffy slipper on the other. The woman over there is wearing a flip flop and a football boot. Some people don’t have any shoes at all!  What’s going on? Has that woman who lives in a shoe got anything to do with this?

Help us find out in Oily Cart’s beautiful show for children from 3 to 5, their families and friends. Join us on a journey through the sights, scents textures and sounds of this multi-sensory Oily Cart Wonderland in the company of a live musician, and all sorts of shoes.

Following a Christmas run at the Southbank Centre in 2014, THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN toured UK venues in 2015.

Listen to music from this show

This shoe show is a perfect fit.

Chris Wiegand, The Guardian

There Was An Old Woman is the type of production theatre-makers aspire to. No good idea is shied away from, no matter how tricky – introducing smell in to the space, letting the audience move around a lot, encouraging them to lie down under a duvet on a lavender pillow. The result is a carefully thought-through theatrical piece that is a privilege to experience.

Children's Theatre Reviews

The actors were absolutely fantastic with the kids, taking their participation in the show very seriously, making sure all the children’s questions were answered and everyone had a shoe in their hand. There was not a single cry that came from the audience, and with such a young crowd, that is a true testament to the brilliance of Oily Cart and their ability to engage and enthral the youngest of minds.

Curious Mum

The performance...is a perfect theatrical experience for young children.

Parenting without Tears

I thought the whole show was absolutely brilliant and have raved about it to all my friends. The atmosphere created and sensory, brilliant, original storyline, acting, music was great. I would attend another show in a second.

Audience feedback, Southbank Centre, London 

The show is excellent to bring a child to and is equally enjoyable to the adult. I've seen the show twice and loved it both times.

Audience feedback, Southbank Centre, London

I loved it! The best show for children I've ever seen.

Audience feedback, Southbank Centre, London 

Mr and Mrs Moon

When the Woman Who Lives In The Moon comes down from the sky to play with the children on a beautiful beach, she likes it so much she doesn’t want to go home. Join her and feel the sand between your toes and the Moonwind in your hair as we danc to the music of the stars.

A sparkling show for 2-5 year olds written and directed by Tim Webb with live music written by Max Reinhardt and Catriona Price and a beautiful design by Claire de Loon. The audience will be immersed in a magical Oily mix of interaction, playfulness and adventure. 

Following a Christmas run at Stratford Circus in 2013, MR AND MRS MOON toured UK venues in 2014.

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...Beautiful and surprisingly profound...

The Guardian

There was much that made this production magical: the chance it gives children to express themselves and help performers with the story, together with the simple props, light humour and the live music and sound effects. The immersive experience of Mr and Mrs Moon is perfectly suited to its young audience, but will also resonate with adults, unlocking imaginations and introducing a theatre of the senses in a beautiful, endearing way.

One Stop Arts

Oily Cart is second to none in its expertise in producing work both for children and for young people with learning difficulties.

The Stage

I took my 2-year-old daughter to see MR AND MRS MOON today at Stratford Circus. This was our first show together and I can't tell you how much she enjoyed it. It was so creative, imaginative and such fun - I was sad when it ended. My daughter caught a gold piece from the moon during the show and she held it all the way home. It captured her imagination like no other experience she has had before. The performers were absolutely amazing, thank you so much. Looking forward to seeing other productions.

Audience feedback, Stratford Circus, London 

Oily Cart are by far the best company I have come across - interactive, beautifully thought out, gorgeous, like being carried away in a dream. Wonderful! 

Audience feedback 

Magical... Seeing Oily Cart is right up there are my favourite experience with my son.

Audience feedback, The Gulbenkian, Canterbury 

Tube

Oily Cart present a new interactive multi-sensory show for babies aged 6 months – 2 years. Watch as Oily Cart transform the tube into a feast for the senses. We'll conjure up a tactile wonderland from a fabulous variety of tubes - tubes filled with sound, tubes that puff out gentle breezes, and tubes glistening with kaleidoscopic colours - to delight and entrance our young audience.

TUBE toured UK venues in 2013 and 2014, and was part of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2014.

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Creating trust and confidence is important, as Oily Cart Director Tim Webb is well aware. So, in its sensory world of colour, sound and smells, Tube encourages young children both as individuals and part of a social organism.

Reviews Gate

The lights went down and the entire space was filled with illuminated outlines of our little ones playing with the ever changing balls. One little girl said in awe “it’s truly magical”. She was correct.

Mums Day Blog

Utterly wonderful and made our hearts sing. My baby was utterly mesmerised throughout. Wonderful.

Audience feedback, Stratford Circus, London 

It was beautifully done - I've never seen my daughter react so strongly to anything! Was wonderful.

Audience feedback, Tara Arts, London 

@oilycart's 'Tube' @Tara_Arts in #Earlsfield this morn was the best production I have ever seen for babies/toddlers. Magical and masterful.

Audience tweet 

Mole in the Hole

Meet the Mole Family in their cosy, underground home, lined with straw and strewn with sweet-smelling herbs. This is a wonderland with delights underfoot, popping out from the walls and even down from the ceiling. The Musical Mole fills the cavern with sounds as we journey to meet the Silly Rabbits, the Brave Snail and encounter some problems that the Moles will need your help to solve.

This is an adventure for all the senses to be enjoyed by all children from 3 to 6, their families and friends. 

Following a Christmas run at Unicorn Theatre in 2010, MOLE IN THE HOLE toured UK venues in 2011. 

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How do you calm down dozens of overexcited three to six year olds? The answer is deceptively simple when left to Oily Cart.

Barbara Lewis, The Stage

Oily Cart has created a wonderful show guaranteed to get the sparks flying in a small child's imagination.

Rachel Halliburton, Time Out

Long before such theatre became fashionable for adult audiences, Oily Cart was making immersive and interactive experiences for children.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Magical, musical, interactive and not patronising. Absolutely loved this - completely different, magical experience... My little boy loved it.

Audience feedback, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry 

It was hands on and feet on! Just quite brilliant. I am an ex- nursery and primary school teachers and couldn't fault it.

Audience feedback, Chichester Festival Theatre 

Very interactive, lovely to be able to move around, do actions and join in with the singing... The show was fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone with small children.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Ring a Ding Ding

RING A DING DING is an epic - though tiny - table-top voyage of discovery, where your fingers and noses are never far from the action.  An immersive, interactive and multi-sensory show for children aged 3 – 6 and their families. Full CD credits for RING A DING DING can be found here.

Following a Christmas run at the Unicorn Theatre in 2011, RING A DING DING was performed in venues across the UK and at the New Victory Theater in New York in 2012.

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Quite simply, Oily Cart makes art for small children: a beguiling aesthetic experience, scaled to fit their curious world and perfectly designed to make them happy.

Caroline McGinn, Time Out *****

From start to finish Ring a Ding Ding remains a visual treat which involves its eager audience in every step of the storytelling process.

Lisa Martland, The Stage ****

 

 

 

 

Totally age-appropriate, fantastic multi-sensory show. Again (as with all Oily Cart productions) very, very high production values, stunning design, incredibly evocative music, strong performances and just the right balance of interaction for the young audience. Makes me want to cry, it's so good! 

Teacher & Early Years Co-ordinator, Michael Faraday Primary School

It was perfectly timed to grasp the young audience's attention the whole way through. The story was beautiful and was turned into a magic event by the actors. What a beautiful show to be enjoyed not only by the children, but also the adults.

Audience feedback, Unicorn Theatre, London 

Christmas Baking Time

Join Baker Bun and Baker Bap in the Oily Cart Bakery whilst they wait for their bread to bake. The two bakers invite the audience to sift through magical floury snow storms, meet mischievous doughy characters and to follow the adventures of the Little Loaf and the Yeasty Beasty.

At the end of the show each member of the audience receives a freshly baked mini Christmas bun to take home with them.

CHRISTMAS BAKING TIME played at Lyric Hammersmith during Christmas 2009.

Listen to music from this show

Rarely have I heard a cello used more imaginatively than when Charlie Henry brings Max Reinhardt’s music to life on stage, from syncopated pizzicato to tremolo for tension and vamp for jolly tunes. The pairing of this with Arun Ghosh’s fine clarinet and keyboard work comes off well too.
Clare de Loon’s busy, homely set enables the cast to play plenty of interactive ‘Can you see..?’ games with the children, as they look for kitchen utensils for games and projects. The Christmas sky at the end - with giant twinkly croissant moon and crossed baguettes for stars - is delightful.

Susan Elkin, The Stage

The show has very wide appearl because of the format, which includes songs as well as spoken word. Excellent theatre company. Keep up the brilliant, awe-inspiring work - one of the great things about being a child in London.

Audience feedback, Lyric Hammersmith, London 

Great fun - my daughter was completely engaged and loved it...Good use of ideas that children are familiar with, but done in an unexpected way that really stimulates the imagination. Simple story, very visual and interactive, and good music.

Audience feedback, Lyric Hammersmith, London 

Lovely sensory experience. Fantastic, high-quality performance.

Audience feedback, Lyric Hammersmith, London 

How Long is a Piece of String?

An interactive, multi-sensory promenade production with astonishing visuals and original, live music, exploring and celebrating the wonders of string.

Following a trail of string the audience are led into the performance area which has been transformed into a woven wonderland.

Following a sell-out run at the Unicorn Theatre, HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING? toured UK venues in January and February 2009.

Listen to music from this show

This is theatre which cradles its young audience and helps them to dream.

Caroline McGinn, The Times *****

What a journey, full of activity and magical moments! Let's not spoil the ending, but, like the mythic piece of piece of string, some things - like loving kindness, creativity and imagining, having fun and learning about life - are immeasureable. Oily Cart, however, continue to be an inspiring yardstick in the realm of children's theatre-making.

Mary Brennan, The Herald

Music was lovely, actors were engaging, scenery was fantastic, perfect amount of interaction. Certainly the best thing we've seen... ever!!!

Audience feedback, Unicorn Theatre, London 

They were utterly captivated, the performance was so flexible the players were able to accommodate each child's needs.The live music was beautiful, the performers all sang so well and the ambience was so loving, none of us wanted to leave.

Audience feedback, Unicorn Theatre, London

It was my great pleasure to accompany my 3 year old granddaughter to your performance... As a grandmother, I appreciated being able to join her and my daughter for this experience, a joy for all three generations. And as a frequent theatre-goer, I have to say that this was one of the best production I've ever seen, anywhere.

Audience feedback, Unicorn Theatre, London 

We struggled through the snow to get to see the show and it was well worth it. I had goose bumps! Will definitely come to see more Oily Cart shows. Fantastic.

Audience feedback, Malvern Theatres 

Interactive, lively and enjoyable. We enjoyed it immensely and my daughter said it was fantastic.

Audience feedback, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

The performers were brilliant and made sure all the children were personally welcomed which made them feel at ease straightaway. They also had very expressive faces and body language which held the children's attention. Needless to say, the storyline, stage sets and props and songs were captivating and fab - as always! My son and I have been to see your productions since he was 9 months and at the age of five still loves watching your performances.

Audience feedback, Theatre Clwyd, Mold 

Excellent production. My children talked about it all the way home. They love Oily Cart productions.

Audience feedback, Theatre Clwyd, Mold 

It captured my children's imagination and involved them from the moment they approached the space. They loved having a role and feeling important. The length was just right. We love your work, it's fantastic. This is our 4th Oily Cart show and it is a complete absorbing joy for children.

Audience feedback, Theatre Clwyd, Mold 

Baby Balloon

A giant balloon starts to glow. Two playful dancers emerge from inside and invite the audience to explore the colours, music and textures of their airy world.

For each highly interactive performance ten babies and their carers entered a magical world of balloons. An exploration of the senses of touch, sound, smell and sight, Baby Balloon was a perfect introduction to the enchantment of theatre for young children.

BABY BALLOON toured venues around the UK and in Europe in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Listen to music from this show

Baby Balloon lasts 50 minutes, every single one a delight. This is touch-me-feel-me theatre of the highest order, in which the fourth wall is blown to smithereens.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

A wonderful, fabulous experience. Never seen anything like it for that age group.

Audience feedback, Manchester International Festival (2007)

Beautiful, engaging, obviously so cleverly timed and researched to hold the children's attention and provoke them. An example of a company who really know their audience.

Audience feedback, Battersea Arts Centre (2007)

Lovely, wonderful, delightful show for our little ones, and for mum and dad as well. Only negative is why did it have to finish?!

Audience feedback, Unicorn Theatre (2007)

If all the World were Paper

Imagine a world made entirely of Paper. In this innovative show based on the centuries-old nursery rhyme, 2-5 year olds are invited to join Curlicue, Doodle and Squiggle as they conjure up a colourful world of paper and ink.

Following a five week Christmas run at Warwick Arts Centre, IF ALL THE WORLD WERE PAPER toured UK venues in January and February 2008.

Listen to music from this show

With the absolutely enchanting show If all the World were Paper, they provide a veritable masterclass in theatre production for kids aged two to five...By the time the cast is singing goodbye in various languages, one is quite bowled over by this most accomplished of children's productions."

Mark Brown, Sunday Herald *****

My Grandson loved it: without any prompting from me, he shouted repeatedly at the stage and cast 'I like it!' on returning to his parents that evening, he was buoyant and had clearly enjoyed his afternoon out. I'm sure this is the start of a long-lived appreciation of the theatre.

Audience feedback, Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Just the right length and pace and level of interaction to keep the children's attention. A truly stress-free theatre experience with small children - from the moment we took our seats it was a child-friendly atmosphere which meant us adults could relax. A brilliant show!

Audience feedback, Salisbury Playhouse 

The show kept the children interested and made them excited/happy/laugh, but also made them think and feel a part of the experience. (It also entertained the parents!) Brilliant, very clever, very creative. Such a wealth of talent on show. Can we still come when our children grow up?

Audience feedback, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry 

Captivating, magical, simple, colourful, imaginative, participative, not scary, relaxed. Delightful - keep it up! It was the first time we've taken our daughter to the theatre and I hope it's set her on course for a lifetime of theatre-going.

Audience feedback, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry 

Big Balloon

The wind has escaped from the Big Balloon. But where has it gone and who can help us get it back? Inspired by the bouncy, bubbly world of balloons, Oily Cart’s show is an interactive, installation-based adventure for children aged 3 to 6 years. Meet wonderful characters in outrageous balloon hats when you enter our colour-changing, shape-shifting, inflatable world.

Following a Christmas run at Lyric Hammersmith in 2006, BIG BALLOON toured UK venues in 2007.

Listen to music from this show

Oily Cart's latest offering is, as always, a feast for the senses. The Lyric studio has been transformed by designer Claire de Loon into a colourful world where balloons of different styles and sizes create everything from costumes to scenery.

As parents and children sit down, their eyes are drawn to one large balloon which changes shape and colour in synchronisation with Bob Karper's accordion/percussion accompaniment. But when the balloon deflates, no one can track down the wind to blow it up again. So the cast and audience begin a journey to find the wind and restore the balloon to its former glory.

Along the way, Tim Webb cleverly involves the children in a variety of scenarios - how can the chimes make their music or the flowers spread their perfume if there is no breeze?

On this occasion the youngsters were only too keen to get involved, indeed it was delightful to see them dancing around the balloon flowers to Max Reinhardt's enchanting music as members of the cast sprayed perfumed water into the air.

Lisa Martland, The Stage

It was totally magical - thank you so much for all your creative energy, communicating with every sense and every child (and adult!) in every moment. We have always loved your shows and will continue to follow, and to recommend, your work.

Audience feedback, Lyric Hammersmith, London

Gentle and beautiful and allowed time for the children to get involved. Truly magical.

Audience feedback, Lyric Hammersmith, London

Hippity Hop

Working with hip hop DJs, poets, artists and dancers, Oily Cart created an amazing multi-sensory show that celebrated street culture. HIPPITY HOP was performed in two distinct formats - one for 2 to 4 year olds (Runaway Pram) and the other for children aged 6 months to 2 years (Dancing Baby). There was also an interactive play area called Hip Hop City designed to build children's confidence and comfort before they entered the world of the show.

HIPPITY HOP toured nationally to venues, schools and sure-starts between November 2004 and March 2005.

Listen to music from this show

Oily Cart's new show…gives the very young a real taste of the wonder of theatre. It comes in two versions: a geriatric one for those between two and four, and a baby version for those over six months. I saw the latter show, and it is an endless box of delights, proving yet again why this company is one of the most inventive working in Britain today.

Just entering the space itself is a pleasure: the Lyric Studio is unrecognisable, transformed into a giant playground full of pint-sized houses, buttons to push, ball pools, soft areas to sit and things to rattle, shake and squeeze. Oily Cart has spent many years working with children with severe learning disabilities who are more likely to respond to touch or music than the spoken word. It shows.

After an interval of free play, the play begins - it takes the form of a hip-hop musical starring a puppet baby. Unlike more traditional theatre it is a complete sensory experience offering lace and peacock feathers to feel, sounds to wake up the ear, soothing smells to sniff and lights that twinkle, glisten and spark. It conveys a sense of wonder that most adult theatre never comes near.

Oh, and yes, the babes did storm the stage area - and they were made very welcome.

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Drum

Listen to the gentle rhythm of the big bass drum, watch the shadows dancing on the surface of the small drums.

A mini city of shipping containers sprung up at MediaCityUK, the new home of Children's BBC in Salford Quays. Some containers were miniature performance spaces, some were specially adapted recording and animation studios, while others were kitted out as interactive installations allowing the very young to explore a fantasy world of sound and music.

DRUM appeared as part of Music Boxes, a children's commission for Manchester International Festival in July 2011, and toured UK venues in 2010 and 2011.

Listen to music from this show

The performance was the most beautiful and best composed children's show I've ever seen.

Audience feedback, Children's Centre, London 

Absolutely brilliant. Very imaginative, and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance and the interaction. A lovely, never-to-be-forgotten experience.

Audience feedback, Tara Arts, London