‘Yvette’ review – Urielle Klein-Mekongo’s debut play is a powerful, poetic triumph

Klein-Mekongo’s solo show about abuse, femininity and adulthood makes a strong return to the Bush Theatre – ★★★★

What does it mean to be a woman? When everyone around Evie is telling her how she should be, she feels confused and frustrated, and loses herself in the music of garage and the noughties.

Yvette is a 13-year-old girl’s exploration of identity – a 55-minute life story shaped by parents, relationships and school bullying, and told through creative lyricism and prose. Tightly paced, it’s a candid tale of discovery, with each chapter bookmarked by songs, poetry and spoken word.

Evie (Klein-Mekongo) walks on stage and taps the microphone. Armed with rhythm and a loop pedal, the teen begins with an honest introduction: “Here’s what it is, I f**ked up bare times,” she says, striking a personal tone which underpins this raw production.

In the opening, we see a sassy and innocent Evie, one which twerks, grins and dances to JP Tronik once home from school. She’s having fun, and we know it. She tries to make us laugh, and she succeeds (an instance where she tries to shave whilst drunk in a bathtub proving particularly comical). In such a short space of time, Klein-Mekongo paints Yvette as charming and likeable, in a way which makes the darker moments all the more impactful and traumatic.

Klein-Mekongo’s first professional play sees her charge through the emotions with piercing precision. Alongside an impressive vocal ability, the London actress knows how to create a sense of character, with Yvette’s strict mother’s rejection of a party invite being delivered with hilarious comedic timing. In Evie’s case, it culminates with a striking performance of an original number by Klein-Mekongo, concluding the teen’s journey with formidable passion and conviction.

Yvette is now playing at the Bush Theatre until 4 June.

Production Images: Helen Murray.

Disclaimer: I was invited to watch Yvette for free in exchange for a review of the performance as a member of the press. I did not receive payment for this review and all opinions stated are honest and my own.

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