Tuesday 9 August 2016
Theatre review: Yerma
Lizzie Clachan's set design is slightly reminiscent of A View From The Bridge in this same theatre, although this time it's a traverse, and instead of the curtain rising for the performance, a glass barrier remains between the actors and the audience throughout the play.
It has the distancing effect of feeling as if we're looking at an aquarium exhibit, especially since the glass also means the actors have to be mic'd, giving a tinny, echoing sound. The set manages some pretty impressive changes of location, although sometimes these require a lengthy blackout while the stage shudders as if a truck is driving through the Young Vic. In common with another Young Vic show, A Doll's House, Stone's Yerma also features a real baby on stage at one point, and it's interesting how much less audience reaction there was here than in that or the Bush's Right Now - it might be another effect of the distancing glass that makes this coup de théâtre not register in the same way.
Mostly though this set serves as a prism through which to view Piper's intense and increasingly unhinged performance as Her; thanks to Cowell's well-meaning but sometimes distant husband, Randle's hassled Mary, Maureen Beattie as Her's blunt mother, and Thalissa Teixeira as Her's assistant, there's a surprising amount of humour for a Yerma as well. But it all comes down to a powerful and seemingly exhausting performance from the lead.
Yerma by Simon Stone after Federico García Lorca is booking until the 24th of September at the Young Vic.
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Johan Persson.