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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

This empty world: Yerma @CervantesTheatr

There’s a hint of melancholy from the outset with Yerma. She’s been married for a while and without a child. While all those around her have children. But it still doesn’t prepare you for what lies ahead in this emotional reinterpretation that shifts the action to pre-revolution Cuba.

Federico García Lorca’s tragic poem is currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre. Performed in both English and Spanish. The English translation is by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell.

As Yerma, Leila Damiola inhabits the role and is astounding. She moves from hope and optimism to despair as the years go by without the child she craves. As each scene concludes its as if she is suffering a new heartbreak as she gradually realises she’s trapped in a loveless and barren marriage.

Opposite her is Tom Whitlock as Juan, her cold and detached husband. He is often out all evening working the farm, and so he enlists his sister to watch Yerma. So people don’t talk. But they’ll talk anyway.

Coco Mbassi is also a standout as the older woman with her experience and harsh words for Yerma. These words go against everything she holds as important. And so she ignores them.

Lorca’s play brings out the superstition and priorities of rural Spain. Here it is given new impetus in shifting the action to Cuba, including an intense fertility ritual Yerma submits to in desperation.

Angel Haro’s design features a large colourful hammock. It’s Yerma’s cocoon to hide in. But it’s also a symbol of her material wealth. This is a woman who has so much yet so little.

There’s also an effective use of sound effects to evoke the rural life. The bells of the sheep that remind the shepherds their work is never done.

Directed by Jorge de Juan, Yerma is at the Cervantes Theatre until 1 December.


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