Boys and young men without positive adult role models are a real problem, as this play reveals in a slice of disaffected life: Hench and Bobbie are pretty much left to their own devices growing up in Feltham. Their alcoholic mum passes by (and out) on the odd occasion to give them grief. Or kisses, depending what kind of a mood she is in. Things are so desperate for these two boys that for much of the time they share a t-shirt, their clothes missing in action along with their Nan.
The boys loyal but unreconstructed credo of ‘bros before hoes’ will ultimately be their undoing, not that they would hear otherwise. When impressionable young men are not taught the fundamentals of respect and are left to a steady diet of violent video games and porn, they do not exercise good judgement when their tempers are triggered. Thankfully we are spared seeing the actions of younger brother Bobbie that threaten to send the family spiraling out of control.
A four hander, the play features Jeremi Campese as Bobbie, Meg Clarke as Jenny, Ryan Hodson as Hench and Hayley Pearl as the boy’s mother Maggie. The long first act sees the two young men watch porn, argue and wrestle like many brothers, unfortunately their resemblance to most brothers ends there. The acting is incredible, with the west London accents spot on. Jeremi Campesi as Bobbie is fantastic, his cheeky energy is a reprieve from the depressing reality of these characters lives, until his misguided loyalty to his brother breaks the spell.
Set design by Ester Karuso-Thurn transformed the stage into a small flat for most of the play, a boy cave whose windows are always kept dark. Director Lucy Clements has shone the light in and exposed their squalid lives for the benefit of the audience. You will leave this play moved, Yen is a play that is hard to watch but the issues that it raises are very real and it is only in raising these issues can we start a dialogue about how to end the culture of boys behaving badly.
Yen is presented by New Ghosts Theatre and is on at the Kings Cross Theatre until 13 Oct, for more information and tickets see: http://www.kingsxtheatre.com/yen/
Directed by Lucy Clements
Featuring: Jeremi Campese, Meg Clarke, Ryan Hodson and Hayley Pearl.