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Yvette review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘humorous and unsettling’

Urielle Klein-Mekongo in Yvette. Photo: China Plate Urielle Klein-Mekongo in Yvette. Photo: China Plate
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Urielle Klein-Mekongo’s one-woman show Yvette is a winning and poignant work that deals with raging teenage hormones, racial identity and the lasting aftermath of sexual violation. It’s sad and defiant, laced with humour and music.

Yvette – known as Evie – is a 13-year-old girl living with her mum on an estate in north London. She’s lost among classroom chatter about blowjobs and bikini waxes, desperate to lose her virginity to her light-skinned, Lynx-doused friend Lewis.

The indignities of adolescence are unflinchingly portrayed. There’s a horribly awkward sequence in which Evie attempts some intimate grooming, contorting in a bathtub with a Bic razor. The same bath becomes a site of self-mutilation when Evie bleaches her skin, ghastly white handprints daubed on her hunched shoulders.

Klein-Mokongo plays multiple characters with consummate ease and timing: Yvette’s shouty and unfulfilled mother, bitchy Patrice in French lessons, a shadowy ‘uncle’ from the US who takes brutal advantage.

Music blends into the story expertly – looped recordings of clicks and beats form a makeshift garage track to which Yvette struts her stuff in her bedroom, while the interruptive force of screeching feedback amid bluish lights unearths repressed trauma. A closing song speaks eloquent volumes about victimhood and resistance.

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Beautifully crafted one-woman show about a teenage girl is heartfelt, humorous and unsettling