As a self proclaimed theatre addict and fan of Billie Piper, you can imagine my excitement to find out she was going to be headlining at The National Theatre.
Sadly, I never managed to get a front row ticket to support her performance.
That was, until yesterday evening…
Thanks to Sky ARTS and National Theatre LIVE, I finally watched the play as if I were actually there.
First off, I just want to thank the genius that pitched this idea at the National. Now those of us that A) Do not have the money to pay for a front row theatre seat. or B) Have been silly enough to miss the show dates. Finally have a way of seeing these shows!
Overall, the production quality was what you would expect from The National.
Adding an informative intro before the show gave the audience background to the writer and the play. I found this very useful because I knew nothing about Federico Garcia Lorca or Yerma. Honestly, my decision to see this play was based mostly on my gut feeling and the gleaming reviews after the run let me justify the £15 cinema ticket.
Simon Stone’s decision to set Lorca’s 1934 classic in contemporary London really helped me connect with the happenings on stage. It also made me question our fundamental collective subconscious thoughts on women’s role in society as they age.
At the beginning of the play, the heroin (Billie Piper) doesn’t want to be defined by social norms, she seemingly has a great blogging career, a happy relationship with her partner, John (Brendan Cowell) and hope for the future.
As the play goes on, we follow her battle with the unprecedented pressure for women to have a baby to feel fulfilled in their lives. But she can’t conceive no matter how much she tries and the mounting pressure from her peer group, who are being successful, starts to affect her to the point where she starts to lose her mind with obsession. The desire to have a child, once unrealised pushes her into a turmoil of madness.
Lizzie Clachan’s set design is very telling of the play, because the action is set in a glass box and gives the viewer a suffocating feeling from the start, just like claustrophobia. It was comparable to watching animals behind the glass at zoos because she too can’t escape her world and is trapped by her own mind. She feels exposed like everyone is watching her and judging her for all her failures at being a woman.
Billie Piper’s performance felt honest throughout, on the performance I watched she didn’t quite hit the mark emotionally at some points but it didn’t take away from her performance at all. I do feel like Brendan Cowell was a great co star, but he threw away his monologues by speed running them as lines instead of actually feeling it in character: like each thought was coming to him then and there, one after the other. Also, I want to honourably mention Thalissa Teixeira because I feel like she did a great job as the supporting actress, being the upbeat 20 something party girl, a reminder of ‘HER’ youth.
Out of all the dramatic theatre I’ve seen this year, this is the best by far. Of course like every show, there were some hits and misses in terms of moments but as a piece I’d say it really set the bar for other theatre makers.
Finally, if you haven’t had a chance to see this show I suggest you book your tickets NOW before you miss it because it is definitely worth the time and money!