Yerma (31st August 2017, Young Vic Theatre via NT Live)
Yerma is a true wonder to behold. Lorca's play from 1934 is brought crashing into present day, its central story as painful as ever. We peer into a glass box, examining the life of 'Her' - a young woman at the start, a successful blogger and lifestyle magazine editor. Billie Piper perfectly creates the role of a woman
who, like most modern young women, never question if they will be able to have it all - and her boyfriend seems the same. When she slowly realises over the years she cannot get pregnant, she becomes obsessed with her need to be a mother. The isolating glass box, brimming with pathetic fallacy and as sparse as her womb, is only filled with furniture when she is caring for a child - the devastating blow when we realise this is not her own child, but her sisters, gives us our first emotional hit. The waves of empathy crash as her sister talks of how unwanted and difficult her child is, flippant comments that could wreck havoc for someone so desperate to conceive.
It was one of the most intense theatrical experiences I have suffered. It dawned on me that perhaps choosing 'when' I would be a mother is a cruel mistake I may discover too late - the slow anxiety building onstage cleverly crept into my subconscious. Simon Stones' astute touches make the play even more relevant - the fact that both her sister and mother provide none of the pressure of Lorca's original play make it even more frustrating and isolating for Her.
The production is gripping, and painfully relevant in this contemporary adaptation. Piper is incredible and devastating within the role, although I found the casting of Brendan Cowell as her boyfriend unusual. Their chemistry, although excellent in the darkest moments, did not contain the natural warmness that I would have liked to have seen more in the beginning. Lizzie Clachan's set design is also a stand out factor, knowing exactly when to draw back in simple scenes such as a bare office, to allow the action play out, and when to build in and develop the situation. A muddy festival in the climatic moments of the play are pure brilliance.
If you get a chance to see an encore screening, take it.