Every once in awhile a piece of theatre comes along so powerful that it wobbles you, requiring time long after the curtain call to be processed in its entirety. Yvette, a one-woman play written and performed outstandingly by Urielle Klein-Mekongo, is one of these pieces. It focuses on thirteen year-old Yvette (otherwise known as Evie), a young girl struggling to navigate through the difficulties of childhood and under-the-table racial injustice until one day, in a moment of sadness, she is preyed upon and raped by her uncle.

Yvette is an education I encourage everyone to have.

When faced with tormenting content, it can be very difficult knowing how to write the script: whether you take verbatim accounts and let what happened speak for itself or whether you should stylise it in order to make a more personal connection with the audience due to the ability for individual interpretation. One of Yvette’s great successes is the controlled release of information throughout the script. From the beginning we are told that the protagonist had her childhood taken away; but in which manner remains concealed until later on. Instead we are introduced to Evie as an individual: an awkward adolescent managing the unknown world of childhood dating; an unhappy daughter struggling to find compassion in her mother; a victim of racial prejudice in today’s society. A key message I took away from the performance was how sexual assault is too often used to define someone: not only have they been victim to such a heinous act but they are forced to live a life without agency to escape from it socially. Because we were not told what happened to Evie early on, we learned that Evie – an individual - was raped as a standalone event. Should it have been the other way round (if we met Evie after we had found out about the sexual assault) I think that perhaps the audience would – on some level – think her to be a product of the assault. It is an upsetting thought, but the piece challenged this viewpoint – unfortunately, something that is still prevalent nowadays on a subconscious level.

An original soundscape is created live each night by Urielle in between scenes with a single microphone and a loop pedal, and serves as the perfect accompaniment to the script: it provides moments of emotional relief to allow the audience time to process script’s harrowing content, and music as a form has the ability to connect with people on an emotive level that sometimes words alone simply cannot reach.

Yvette handles a difficult topic with sensitivity but without hesitation. So often we can think of rape as being black and white when we hear about it through various forms of media, hearing about it through formal outlets as a clinical act. Whilst the news tells us the facts, it makes no comment on the extreme emotional upheaval and distress the victim undoubtedly suffers. Yvette takes this and personifies it, bringing home just how horrendous such an act is. Theatre has a unique ability to confront an audience with their own moral compass, but so rarely is this used to its full effect. This piece, however, does not shy away and Yvette is an education I encourage everyone to have.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

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The Blurb

‘I see the way that butters-fat-lipped-troll-Patrice looks at him, she’s the kinda lighty that finks she’s too nice.’ Evie is thirteen and lives in Neasden with her Mum. She wants to tell us something… her crush on Lewis, trying to be a woman, friends, virginity, garage remixes… an ‘uncle’ lurking in the corner of her story. She wants to make us laugh, she’s pretty good at it. She wants to tell us something, but she daren’t let it out. A one-woman show with original music about stolen childhood and growing up with a secret. Based on a true story.