’Will stay with you for some time’: YERMA – Cervantes Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Shanine SalmonLeave a Comment

Cervantes Theatre, London – until 1 December 2018

Since opening its doors in 2016, Southwark’s Cervantes Theatre has quietly become a force to be reckoned with, with intimate bilingual stagings of classic Spanish works, counterpointed with new writing. In its current production of Yerma, Lorca’s enduring “tragic poem”, director Jorge de Juan has seamlessly transposed the action to an Afro-Cuban setting, where the unhurried pace of life highlights how empty Yerma’s days truly are.

I saw the English language version, which has a completely different cast to the Spanish version, with only Venezuelan TV star Gledys Ibarra appearing in both, although in different roles. The cast is uniformly excellent, marrying the sometimes-ornate translation by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell with the spare, stately direction. Leila Damilola anchors the piece as Yerma, rarely offstage, emerging at the start of the play from a giant hammock draped across the stage in a potent act of symbolism.

The standout moment is when the slow and steady pace gives way to an explosive ritual scene performed in Fang and Yoruba, and choreographed by Jordan Mba, as the women of the town pray in vain for Yerma. As the play heads towards its inevitable tragic climax, the action is kept intimate and spare yet again, allowing the full weight of Yerma’s desperation to sink in. Damilola unearths a raw and shattering performance, and the director wisely entrusts her to carry the play’s final moments, which will stay with you for some time. Highly recommended.

Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.
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Shanine Salmon on Twitter
Shanine Salmon
Shanine Salmon was a latecomer to theatre after being seduced by the National Theatre's £5 entry pass tickets and a slight obsession with Alex Jennings. She is sadly no longer eligible for 16-25 theatre tickets but she continues to abuse under 30 offers. There was a market for bringing awareness that London theatre was affordable in an era of £100+ West End tickets – Shanine’s blog, View from the Cheap Seat, launched in April 2016, focuses on productions and theatres that have tickets available for £20 and under. She is also quite opinionated and has views on diversity, pricing, theatre seats and nudity on stage. Her interests include Rocky Horror, gaming, theatre (of course) and she also has her own Etsy shop. Shanine tweets at @Braintree_.