I’ve deleted about five versions of this blog post because I just don’t know how to start it. Yerma at the Young Vic has affected me so deeply, and I’ve been thinking about it constantly since seeing it on Friday.
I heard about it a couple of weeks ago – Husband flipped his laptop round to show me the Observer five star review and asked if I’d be interested to see it. We checked to see if Tim wanted to go as well because it seemed like something he’d be interested in. A few text messages later, we had three great seats booked. Good thing too as it’s now sold out.
Yerma is a 1934 Spanish play by Federico García Lorca about a women obsessed with her infertility. Director Simon Stone has modernised it for the Young Vic, rewriting the titular character as a lifestyle blogger and transporting her to current day London. Whilst it’s not a theme I can directly empathise with, Billie Piper took me along with her struggle. It’s a story I’ve heard from friends, work colleagues, family – I can see how easily desperation could take hold, perhaps not to the same extremes but it felt very possible. I didn’t read much about it beforehand, so the actual plot took me somewhere I wasn’t expecting it to – starting off hopeful and lighthearted, but ending so dark.
Seating at the Young Vic is different for every show, and for Yerma, the stage was in the middle of the theatre encased in a perspex box (our Musketeer was directly opposite us). I love a clever set, and this is one of the most inspired I’ve seen. The theatre is plunged into darkness at the end of each scene, and when the lights come up, it’s completely different – a change of clothes, entirely different furniture, a garden, a festival field. There was such a wonderful dynamic physicality to the set and I could not get enough of being surprised. And I loved how it isolated me – I almost forgot that Husband and Tim were sat next to me and I was able to completely lose myself to the play.
All this combined with the music and the overwhelming acting from every member of the cast made for an incredibly tense and often uncomfortably voyeuristic story. As we gave our standing ovation, tears were streaming down my face and my entire being was zinging. It left me so emotionally exhausted that I’ve only just about recovered after spending most of Saturday in a funk on the sofa. I don’t know how any of the actors, especially Billie, managed to pick themselves up to accept the audience cheers at the end.
I really want to see it again from the other side of the cube – alas it’s not to be – but I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen this incarnation at least once.