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Poor innocent Yerma. Newly wed and isolated in a rural community far from home, she’s eager to consummate her marriage to Juan and anticipating the patter of tiny feet a few months down the line.

But days turn into weeks, weeks to seasons and seasons to years and still hubbie spends more time sleeping with his sheep than he does with his wife, hiding the shameful secret of a youthful unspoken passion for the hunky butcher (Ross Anderson).

Played out on Ruth Sutcliffe’s appropriately arid set of rusty sand and corrugated walls, Anthony Weigh’s new version strips down Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1934 tragedy to half a dozen characters, cutting out the chorus and leaving it to Alison O’Donnell’s Maria (an earth mother in the making who pees in a bucket and adds a delightfully natural comic note) to convey the social pressure to reproduce.

And as Ty Glaser’s wide-eyed Yerma – not much more than a child herself – becomes increasingly desperate for the baby that would transform her into a woman, Natalie Abrahami’s atmospheric production demands sympathy for this unfulfilled young wife, baffled by her husband’s behaviour and, tragically, unable to change his callous indifference to her emotional needs.

Gate, Pembridge Road W11 3HQ
020 7229 0706
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
Until December 17
£20, matinees £10
gatetheatre.co.uk

- Louise Kingsley


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Yerma - review
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