Billie Piper stars in a new version of Lorca's great play from radical Australian director Simon Stone
Aussie director Simon Stone caused a big splash in 2014 when his radical adaptation of Ibsen's 'The Wild Duck' called in at the Barbican. It's not surprising, then, that directors' mecca the Young Vic has signed him up for his first original UK production – his own adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's masterpiece about a woman whose life is torn apart by her inability to have a child. And in a piece of big name casting, Billie Piper has been announced to play the title role.
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66 The Cut
Although I do not personally identify with the core theme of this play, there were so many related areas that drew me and indeed the audience into the play. Yerma is difficult to digest and as it has been modernised to present day, it is not far from being completely relatable. The main character played by Billie Piper yearns to have a child due to that whole biological ticking clock rubbish women have been drip fed from day 1. At first you so want her to conceive even though you feel uneasy about it because of her somewhat reluctant partner John, played by the brilliant Aussie actor Brendan Cowell. You start to get to know what Yerma is like through her interactions with her unmotherly mother, her sister who is accidentally pregnant and becomes the kind of mother you don't want! Then there's her assistant who encourages Yerma - a prolific blogger, to document her every thought no matter how controversial. An ex for whom they share a regret from the past but with opposing perspectives. As Yerma descends to "batsh!t crazy", it seems inconceivable that such yearning could become so destructive in all aspects of her life. It is hard to feel sorry for her, and personally I started to side with her now husband, John. It is harrowing to watch as the performances of the key characters are so raw and intense. If not for some light touches, humour and even moments of happiness, it would be draining and far too dark. When the lights dimmed for the last time, the cast and crew were rewarded with a standing ovation - although Billie was still visibly affected by her portrayal of Yerma. I would hate to have to go thru those emotions night after night though. A special mention to Young Vic and the crew for the amazing set changes and the wonderful director Simon Stone who provided a funny intro being night one of previews.