According to the program notes, director Lucy Clements was mesmerised ten minutes into watching Anna Jordan’s YEN when she saw it overseas last year. Having seen her work before, one can understand why the pull was so strong to bring this show to Australia and why this gritty, uncompromising script would squat itself inside the intimacy of Kings Cross Theatre.
The production, from New Ghosts Theatre Company, has a visceral, raw unpleasantness that is expressed with the predictability of disillusion and errant hopelessness. But putting poverty porn on stage is not enough reason to mount the show and hurl it at an audience. What Clements does instead is to fuck with what one believes theatre should be, should show, and should say… brilliantly.
Bobby, 14, and his older brother, Hench who is 16, exist in shut-in filth where they watch graphic porn and play Call of Duty all day. Only going out, one at a time because they need to share their only T shirt, to steal shit. Their existence has its ups and downs of brotherly engagement and distance balanced out by shooting games and gynophobic observations and the dog that is being caged, unloved, in their other room. Their mother, Maggie, staggers through their lives occasionally, the generational tradition of absence also reflected in their Nan’s escape to parts unsure. Enter a civilising influence, Jenny. Improvement? Probably more of the same is pre-ordained for these loveless boys. Continue reading YEN: THEATRE TO MESS YOU UP