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Jessica Rachid - OILS Interview

Oils is a gripping show about survival, trauma, and the unyielding strength of a woman written by Jessica Rachid. Follow the journey of a courageous mother as she navigates living with a domestically violent husband while simultaneously managing a thriving kebab shop in the vibrant landscape of East London. Oils is a poignant testament to the intricate nature of relationships and the fierce strength required to face the darkest corners of a marriage. It illuminates the blurred lines between love and hate, leaving audiences to contemplate the depths of human endurance and the sacrifices made in the name of love.

Winner of Bloomsbury Radio’s New Wave Radio Play Competition 2022. This new production has been developed with Drayton Arms Theatre Artistic Director, Audrey Thayer.

Ahead of the run we caught up with writer Jessica Rachid to discuss the show further.

What first inspired you to write OILS? 
In 2020, I was showcasing my work with the Shaw Theatre and I was lucky enough to collaborate with a talented Turkish actress, Dilek Rose. We wanted to tell a true story where she could be the main character. After interviewing a survivor of domestic violence, we collaboratively created OILS as a one-woman monologue. In 2022, OILS won the Bloomsbury Radio New Wave Freedom of Expression Competition, leading to its adaptation for the stage. Audrey Thayer, Creative Director of the Drayton Arms Theatre, played a crucial role, alongside director Tian Brown-Sampson and actors Kat Kashefi and Matthew Blaney. The Bloomsbury Festival's support has been invaluable. We are also raising funds for Refuge; you can donate here

How did you approach the writing process and balancing the themes that are discussed? 
Balancing themes like motherhood, marriage, and managing a kebab restaurant in East London required a unique approach. We start with a Middle-Eastern Mother, who is isolated from her family due to her marriage to an Irishman, exploring a clash of cultures. OILS delves into various forms of domestic violence, such as financial abuse, love bombing, and gaslighting, breaking down the fourth wall to help the audience understand the Mother's choices. How does it feel as a writer when you get to watch the piece come to life? Watching your work transform from a radio play to a stage production is humbling. It involves deconstructing and reconstructing the story for new performers, putting ego aside to ensure the story's integrity. You have to remember that your role as a writer is to perform open heart surgery and keep the story alive. It is hard work. Managing marketing rewrites, casting and rehearsal spaces can be challenging, but I'm grateful for the team and the audience's support. 

Did you have to do much research while you were writing and developing the piece? 
Yes, I conducted intensive research, speaking with survivors of domestic abuse. OILS explores the lasting effects of abuse on relationships, aiming to give survivors a voice. The play features a mother as the main character, a flawed hero fighting a hidden battle. Why did you choose to support Refuge with this production? I chose to support Refuge because of their mission to protect and support women and children facing domestic abuse. The themes of empowerment and resilience in OILS align with Refuge's mission. Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women, and Refuge provides vital support every 30 seconds. 

What keeps you inspired as a creative? 
I draw inspiration from telling stories often overlooked by the media. My commitment to inclusion and diverse perspectives, rooted in my mixed Irish-Egyptian background, drives my work. The courage of those who've shared their stories with me is a constant source of inspiration. Tackling domestic violence, which thrives in silence, led me to create OILS, aiming to give survivors a voice.

What do you hope the audience takes away from seeing OILS? 
I hope OILS leaves the audience with lingering questions. The story, filled with complex characters, challenges preconceptions. It explores the complexity of domestic violence and why victims may stay. No one is born evil, and the play aims to convey that. I want the audience to understand the challenges of leaving an abusive relationship. The crucial work of Refuge offers answers, solutions, and safety for domestic violence survivors.

OILS plays at RADA Studios as part of the Bloomsbury Festival on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th October. Tickets are available from

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