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Published 11 August 2016

What is it all about?

Yerma is a devastating play about isolation and obsession. Based on Lorca’s original story, the play tells the story of a woman’s struggle to conceive which later turns into an unhealthy obsession, leading her to commit a terrible act.

Simon Stone’s adaption of the Lorca classic brings the play right into the 21st century. In transporting the story from rural Spain into the modern, gentrified and metropolitan London, Stone proves that regardless of social or cultural context, the principle themes of Yerma are still relevant wherever the story is told. In the programme notes Stone describes the original text as “a play about a woman who exists everywhere in the world all the time”. Removing the protagonist’s name and replacing it simply with ‘Her’ highlights the universal nature of this story experienced by many women all over the world.

Who is in it?

The play is supported by a strong cast who all shine but Billie Piper commands all attention whenever she appears onstage.

Piper delivers a devastatingly tragic performance of Her that had audience members sobbing and consoling each other after the performance had ended. At the beginning she adopts a charming and charismatic nature that makes the audience fall in love with her. As the play progresses, we see Piper’s witty and loveable character slowly destroy herself which becomes increasingly sad and uncomfortable to watch. Piper delivers a powerful and dramatic performance which no doubt will have the nominations rolling in come awards season.

Brendon Cole holds his own against Piper and delivers a great performance as a powerless husband who struggles watching his wife destroy herself. The chemistry Cole and Piper employ onstage makes for a believable relationship, making it all the more sad to watch as their relationship gradually crumbles.

Maureen Beattie brings some much needed humour to the piece as Piper’s brazen mother. Her dry humour and brilliant comic timing brings great comic relief in this tense play.

What should I look out for?

Lizzie Clachan’s versatile set is impressive, particularly the central glass box where the action takes place. Further highlighting the theme of isolation, the glass box provides a distance between the actors and the audience and unwillingly puts the audience in the role of onlookers, intruding on people’s lives, adding to the sense of unease to the performance.

In a nutshell?

Yerma is a triumphant and brilliant take on a classic, further strengthened by a strong cast and a powerful performance by Billie Piper.

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Will I like it?

If you are a fan of the Young Vic’s work then this will definitely appeal to you. This is a brave and successful take on a classic that never falters, warranting its standing ovation.

Yerma plays at the Young Vic until 10 September for more information visit the official website.

By Kyle Meade


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