Review: YEN ***



C Cubed Venue 50

August 2nd to 25th No breaks. 12.20


Two brothers, sixteen year old Hench and thirteen year old Bobbie, occupy their mother’s flat, but she is not there. She lives with her man, and only occasionally visits, not usually to be helpful, and the boys keep Lucozade to hand in case she has a bad turn. They have hardly any clothes as they took a wash to their Gran the day before she disappeared.

PlayStation, porn, watching the world outside and banter and argument between them keep the time passing. Until a girl they have observed from their window, one who lives opposite, turns up, with a complicated story of her own. She is a dog lover, and very concerned about their dog, which has a significant role in the drama without ever being seen.

Playwright Anna Jordan here focuses on characters who have slipped through the cracks in society, who are lacking in ordinary levels of nurturing, and on what remains in their inner selves and personalities to cope or not. Visitor Jennifer brings a degree of help and consolation, but the young people’s lack of self- knowledge and self-esteem leads to problems.

Danny Parker and Jack Firoozan as the brothers give intense and deeply convincing portrayals and present a very believable relationship. Louisa Mathieu is convincing as the very problematic mother, with whom the boys have a love/hate relationship. Stories told to console, we see, can be transferred from person tom person.

Gayaneh Vlieghe as Jennifer provides a firm but helpful contrast. The embarrassment and hesitancy in the connection between Hench and Jennifer is particularly well conveyed.

This production by Fourth wall Theatre Company is a compassionate and involving portrait of a group of well-realised characters. It is an absorbing and thought-provoking drama.

Tony Challis