Yen (3 stars)

This article is from 2018


A promising combination of energy and thoughtfulness

Much of Yen's forceful dynamism comes from the situation established in the first moments of the play: two brothers, abandoned by their mother, are cooped up together in a single bedroom playing video games and watching hardcore pornography. The consequences of their neglect are played out over an hour and a half, the violent conclusion undermined only by a series of epilogues that try to resolve the tragedy but sadly add little of substance.

With a sparkling, dynamic pace – which does drag in some of the later scenes – Anna Jordan's lively script is stronger on the dialogue than the characterisation. One brother's mental health problem is under-explored but are mostly a narrative device and a short-cut for sympathy, and the lack of chemistry between the older brother and the woman who enters their live and offers affection, Jen, makes their romance an abrupt intrusion into a touching friendship. This uneven depiction of the brothers is leavened by good performances and the thrust of the narrative.

With limited scenography and simple transitions between scenes – music marking the changes – Fourth Wall present a solid production that speaks of alienation and angst. Jordan's script has weaknesses that are not quite covered by all of the cast's performances – the mother is underwritten, and Jen's kindness comes across as passivity – but the show engages with pressing concerns.

C, run ended


  • 3 stars

Fourth Wall Theatre Brutal, heart-breaking and often hilarious, Yen by Anna Jordan explores the relationship between nature and nurture. Bobbie and Hench are home alone in a squalid flat in Feltham, playing PlayStation, streaming porn, watching the world go by. Sometimes their mum Maggie visits, usually with empty pockets…