Yen truly has it all: comedy, tragedy, romance, and heartbreak.
The play is centered on the lives of two teenage brothers, Hench and Bobbie, and their struggle to survive after their mom, Maggie, moves in with her boyfriend leaving them alone in their apartment.
The show manages to showcase the harsh reality of the boys’ existence in a very entertaining way. This is done by interspersing moments of comedy, mainly through the performance of Jeremi Campese as the fourteen-year-old Bobbie, into an otherwise heart rending story. The patches of humour, often crude in nature, paint a picture of two brothers who, though they’ve lost almost everything they once had, still have their humanity.
The show’s set design also goes a long way in keeping the audience engaged. With seating on either side of the stage, the actors have no reason to “cheat out” or face the audience. This not only makes for a more authentic performance from the actors, but also invites the audience into the boys’ bedroom and the world of the play.
The cast of the show, too, is great. Though her character, Maggie, is not a main part Hayley Pearl’s brilliant performance is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show. Ryan Hodson and Meg Clarke also deliver solid performances in the roles of Hench and Jenny. Jeremi Campese in the role of Bobbie, however, is slightly difficult to digest. While Campese is undoubtedly very talented, it is odd to see a 20 year old actor playing a 14 year old character. Not only is it distracting and unrealistic, but it also takes away from Campese’s performance as it is very difficult to imagine him as a 14 year old.
Altogether, the acting, writing, and set design combine to tell a tragic and thought-provoking story. For those capable of enjoying theatre with difficult subject matter, Yen is definitely worth seeing.
Until Oct 13. King’s Cross Theatre, 244-248 William Street, Potts Point, $20-$35+b.f., Tickets & Info: www.kingsxtheatre.com
Review by Gabe Merkel