by Anna Jordan.
Royal Court Theatre (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 13 February 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs: 1hr 40min No iinterval.
TICKETS 020 7565 -5000.
Review: Carole Woddis 27 January.
Shifting meanings and shifting emotions skilfully revealed.
‘Yen’ is an old word, not often heard these days. My mother used to use it as in `oh, I had such a yen for…’
In Anna Jordan’s Yen, it’s a short form and family nick-name for Jenny, a bright and shining star who enters the dark, festering world of Hench and his brother Robbie, living feral lives dominated by violent video games and porn. Hench and Robbie are still only youngsters, teenagers.
‘Yen’ comes to also stand for, as in my mother’s definition, something yearned for, desired – and in Hench’s case, just out of reach, barely comprehensible and unable to be properly articulated. It’s a sense of love and tenderness. And Jen/Yen’s ability to break through Hench and Robbie’s defensive, armour-plated roughness is something to behold.
No wonder Jordan’s play was a winner of the increasingly coveted Bruntwood new-writing prize at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre (another winner, Chris Urch’s The Rolling Stone is currently at Richmond’s Orange Tree, and: see previous reviewed). It’s a play that depresses and moves by turns, a veritable roller-coaster of an experience but one that leaves you admiring Jordan’s empathy for a world of such disorder, crying out for social intervention.
For YenPomona has, curiously, edited Jordan’s original text, cutting a whole scene regarding Maggie and her sense of `family’. Nonetheless, overall, infinitely touching, Yen still emerges as a mournful, powerful and touching rebuke quite stunningly performed by its young cast.
Hench: Alex Austin
Maggie: Sian Breckin
Bobbie: Jake Davies
Jenny: Annes Elwy
Director: Ned Bennett
Designer: Georgia Lowe
Lighting Designer: Elliott Griggs
Composer & Sound Designer: Giles Thomas
Movement Director: Polly Bennett
Casting Director: Sophie Parrott
Fight Director: Pamela Donald
Dialect Coach: Mary Howland
Yen was first produced at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Feb 2015;
First perf at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Jan 22, 2016
For more info see: www.royalcourttheatre.co.uk