Yerma review at Cervantes Theatre, London – ‘a poised production’
Federico García Lorca’s Rural Trilogy at the Cervantes Theatre ends with a considered and confident production of his “tragic poem” Yerma, performed in two versions, with both an English and Spanish cast.
Adapted and directed by Jorge de Juan in a translation by Carmen Zapata and Michael Dewell, tragedy wells up from the most mundane situation.
Yerma, whose very name means “barren”, cannot bear a child in her marriage, and dreams of the “good, fresh, new, necessary” pain of feeding a baby.
In the title role Leila Damilola is completely disarming, singing to herself and crying in frustration, barefoot in her white slip.
Others live fulfilled lives around her; Coco Mbassi is a wry and warm standout as an older woman who gives her simple but honour-threatening advice.
The production’s pre-revolution Afro-Cuban setting allows the poetic, rustic language to unfold unhurriedly, marked by shepherd’s bells throughout. In a ritual scene in Fang and Yoruba, the play’s careful and spare movement gives way to fervent, individualised choreography by Jordana Mba.
Angel Haro’s set features a large hammock, which the production uses inventively, from Yerma’s childlike swinging to her cocooning herself within it, arrested at this stage of her life: unlike her husband, there’s nothing for her to do but care, and this production builds calmly to her earned bursting point.