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Oily Cart

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 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. 

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"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

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 new 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.


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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 a perfect theatrical experience for young children.

Parenting without Tears

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 dance to the music of the stars.

A sparkling new 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. 


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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


Oily Cart presents 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, tubes glistening with kaleidoscopic colours to delight and entrance our young audience.


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It sounds extremely simple and, in a way it is, but this sharing of sensations is beautifully structured to become an entertainment by a set of skilled creators and performers. Just watching, even without direct participation, is a pleasure.

British Theatre Guide

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

In a Pickle

An Oily Cart/ Royal Shakespeare Company co-production first performed as part of the World Shakepeare Festival in Summer 2012.

A wonderland, total theatre experience for children aged 2 to 4, their families and friends. Inspired by The Winter’s Tale, we will take our young audience 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 little sheep. She is having a party to celebrate the sheep shearing. When she discovers a lost baby, we must follow the clues. Together we will travel over the salty sea to the sad court where we will find our happy ending.

There are beautiful costumes, enchanting live music, some helpful clues, lovely perfumes and delightful textures along the way.

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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.

Mirabelle Lý-Eliot, What's on Stage *****

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

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian ****

In a Pickle, a delightful charm-laden introduction to Shakespeare for two to four year olds by Tim Webb, co-produced by RSC and Oily Cart... golly, how it entranced, educated and entertained the young audience.

Susan Elkin, The Stage


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 all 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. Everyone will be asked to muck in, so please don’t wear your best outfit!

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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

Ring a Ding Ding

Written and Directed by Tim Webb

Designed by Claire de Loon

Music by Max Reinhardt

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

This production toured nationally from December 2011 to mid February 2012. 

Full CD credits for RING A DING DING can be found here.

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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 ****





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.

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"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

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

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"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

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.

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"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

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.

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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 *****

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. Big Balloon toured UK Venues from December 2006 - March 2007.

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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

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.

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"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


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

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

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.




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