Review: National Theatre Live puts on their best work yet with YERMA (In Select Cinemas from October 14th)

Oftentimes, a contemporary theatrical work can leave a strong impression on an audience, but none more so than the modern-day adaptation of Federico García Lorca‘s YERMA. Directed and re-written by Australian Simon Stone is a radical production of this intense Lorca masterpiece. Starring Billie Piper in her Olivier Award-winning role, and joined by acclaimed Australian actor Brendan Cowell sees the highs and lows of a couple trying to fall pregnant.

Set in contemporary London, Piper’s portrayal of a woman in her thirties desperate to conceive unveils the all too traumatic lengths a woman would go to, to fulfil her innate sense of womanhood. Supported by an incredible cast including Maureen Beattie, John MacMillan, Charlotte Randle and Thalissa Teixeira, allows Piper to shine in what is her best performance to date. What a privilege it is to see this story being told through actors who bare their entire soul. Not only is it a significant piece of work, but it is interesting in that it asks you to question the conventional ideas of what womanhood really is.

Stone has retained Lorca’s sense of urgency with this play and it is by no means for the faint of heart; it will challenge you and in some ways trigger feelings that have been deeply buried within your own self; demons that you may have been trying to ignore for so long. Piper’s portrayal of a woman defined by her inability to conceive is what makes her character’s journey all the more riveting, and watching her spiral into the pits of darkness is nothing short of confronting.

Stone has retained the essence of Lorca’s work but brought it to 2017, in a way that will speak to the audience of experiences not too far from home. ‘Yerma’ means barren in Spanish so it is a deeply symbolic name and acts as the basis for the metaphorical journey of this play. While staying true to Lorca’s use of poetic and rhythmic language, so too has Stone in what is a very natural way of storytelling with references very much from the real world. This is a work where language, plot and themes will have an overlap in the audience’s own experiences.

It’s been two days since I saw this work and it has still left a lasting impression. YERMA will make you cry, make your heart pound and put life into perspective for you, and those going through an ordeal as difficult as this.

Photos by Johan Persson.

For screening details, tickets and more info, head here.