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Yokes Night review at the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘electric performances’

A scene from Yokes Night at the Pleasance Courtyard Scott Lyons in Yokes Night at the Pleasance Courtyard
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The subject of choice for grim plays about the rites of passage of the nation’s underclass youth used to be housing-estate grimness. Now it’s replaced with the grimness to be found in the clubbing/rave scene.

As documented in vivid detail in this two-hander, Yokes Night ticks all the boxes in this tale of dashed dreams and the release to be gained for the “young, broke and bored” in a substance-fuelled night out.

Zoe Forrester in Yokes Night
Zoe Forrester in Yokes Night

Unusually, this riveting two-hander from Stay Up Late Collective goes several steps further and turns into a darkly innocent love story with a couple of surprises along the way.

It’s set in Dublin on the night of a real-life 24-hour period when a legislative anomaly meant that drugs were legal throughout Ireland; the party rate spiked massively that night.

An insecure yet rebellious lad rifles his mum’s purse for cash and plunges into the clubs to celebrate this night of rebellion. On the dance floor, he meets a girl, a loner like him – utterly irresistible, feisty but prickly and off-hand – and he has a only short while to woo her before the fog of chemicals holding them together wears off.

A lot of themes are packed into this new play by Scott Lyons (who also plays the male lead), including abortion in Ireland, family attitudes, a dig at the state, and even a fully fledged plot so things don’t tail off at the end.

There’s a whole load of physical stuff going on too, thanks to director Dimitris Chimonas’ finger-on-the-pulse direction. Like Midsummer on MDMA, Lyons and Zoe Forrester, as the strangely likeable couple, generate a chemistry that gets sparks flying throughout in a brace of winning performances.

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Verdict
A ton of issues plus electric performances makes this two-hander a winning combination
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