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.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.