Yvette

A story about growing up with a terrible secret is important, but needs development

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
31464_large
Yvette
Published 18 Aug 2017

Boy-crazed Evie lives in Neasden with her mum and is fighting the battles that most inner-London comprehensive school kids do. She's desperate for Lewis' attention, worrying about her body and dealing with the racialised social hierarchy where having light skin means you're better. She also has a creepy uncle from America who's visiting. As things get rough at school, and her mum won't let her go to parties or hang out with her friends, he's there to pick up the pieces and impact upon the rest of her life, but not in a good way.

Written and performed by Urielle Klein-Mekongo, Yvette's use of music, spoken word, object manipulation and narrative form is a pleasing collage of styles without being too messy. But her script has an uneven dramaturgy, with too much focus on exposition. The climactic events are rushed, and the last part of the show addresses their impact in the present rather than at the time. The leap forward isn't immediately clear, and the earlier stories focusing on friends, boys and her mum are left unresolved.

Klein-Mekongo is an excellent performer with a strong singing voice and good versatility. Her depiction of other characters demonstrates great comic timing and she's an instinctive storyteller. She has a warm, watchable energy and consistently connects with the script.

This is a show that would easily withstand lengthening. With further narrative clarity, the story has the potential for much greater emotional impact, and it's an important story that deserves to be told.