THEATRE REVIEW: Yerma starring Billie Piper


WHERE: Young Vic

WHEN: 29/7, runs to 24/9

Has Billie Piper won an Olivier Award for best actress? We ask because this performance as the protagonist in Simon Stone’s adaptation of Lorca’s classic about a woman destroyed by her childlessness may well bear fruit for her where The Effect failed in 2012.

  • Read on for why this is a Pokemon Go reference from being so utterly of its time

Stone is apparently the enfant terrible of Australian theatre but if we’re being picky we’ve seen the glasshouse setting a year ago at the Young Vic. While the use of frequent blackouts and screens was done better in the Almeida’s production of 1984 currently showing in the West End.

What is impressive is the writing and the modern-day setting with its references to blogs and Brexit which seems just a Pokemon Go mention away from being completely and utterly of its time. However, at its heart, this is a story that is timeless and relies not a jot on its setting.

Yerma is the tale of a woman who becomes obsessed with conception and her failure eventually destroys her relationship. It’s a story many can perhaps empathise with but fewer still can actually have gone through.

To make it work Piper needs to convince that she has found easily the joy of sex in her relationship and to be so comfortable with it that her mania that its results are not as she desires become all consuming.

This 110-minute piece without interval could have quite easily lost 20 minutes and been better focused for us but its joy, aside from the clever deployment of grass and even a tree, is found most in a performance which begins relaxed and quietly, slowly rips out the viewer’s guts.

That it seems so natural and unforced – and this was only the second preview – is a tribute to one of this country’s finest actresses.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Young Vic. Tickets here.
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