Sun 14th – Sat 20th August 2016


Eloise Heath

at 09:19 on 16th Aug 2016



As an adaptation of a classic which features an apocalypse, the patriarchy and interpretive dance, 'YPFii' is certainly interesting material for the Fringe. Set in an underground cell after the catastrophic end of a nuclear war, it is very dark, incredibly earnest and highly ambitious. Whilst the execution is erratic, the efforts of the cast yield some genuinely striking moments.

Like all good student theatregoers, my passion for a good preset knows almost no bounds; on this front, 'YPFii' delivers. A girl lies centre stage in the foetal position, as another sits stony faced at the back, playing a trippy synth cover of ‘Dream a Little Dream’. Over the speakers, a public service announcement drones instructions for staying safe during ‘the fallout’. The set feels slightly halfhearted: some lonely barbed wire is strewn around the keyboard at the back, flanked by a few hastily daubed signs. Luckily, the dreamy and engaging soundscape and some effective lighting compensate for this pretty effectively.

Bennet and Burford, already armed with a great pair of surnames for a writing duo, traverse tricky territory with a pretty light touch. The adaptation element is underplayed to great effect. The parallels with and allusions to ‘The Trojan Woman’ are helpful, rather than cloying. In the most poignant point of contact with the original story, Cassandra’s foresight is replaced by ‘magical thinking’, a common facet of OCD. This moment of nuance is slipped in, almost under the radar, without pomp or pretension. Similarly, dotted throughout are deferential nods to pop culture, self aware little references; "It’s like a Bond film or 1984", one character says. There are moments, however, in which this light touch is disrupted. "They’re the f*ckers who started this by dropping that bomb on us" and similar outbursts are jarring, but in a way that’s brash and clunky, rather than impactful. Luckily, however, these are relatively seldom.

The best moments of this play are the monologues, for which the narrative is periodically suspended. During these, the ensemble perform energised, committed movement sequences around the central actor. These are the riskiest moments of the show. More importantly, they are the sections that feel the tightest and, therefore, the best. Kirsty Haywood (Sarah) and Liv Mason Pearson (Sadie) also deserve special mention; they deliver the most colourful and the most consistent performances respectively.

There are some teething problems; erratic delivery and the occasional wayward turn of phrase serve, on occasion, to puncture and deflate the atmosphere. And yet, 'YPFii' leaves some striking impressions. In a creepy, 1984-esque flourish, the keyboard player staring into her illuminated music stand looks like surveillance. The contemporary movement sequences are polished and engaging, and the acting delivers moments of real poignancy. And for some context, this dystopian rumination on apocalypse, war and patriarchy is pulled together by a group of high school students. Overall, they pull it off.


Olivia Cormack

at 10:21 on 16th Aug 2016



Sirens blare, and a calm voice instructs us on the safety procedures which should be followed in the event of a nuclear bomb blast. Bethany Reeves, on the piano, plays gentle compositions which lend an eerie kind of normality to the disaster scenario being played on repeat. Artfully written, and loosely based on ‘The Trojan Women’ by Euripides, 'YPFii' updates several underlying themes of the tragedy and explores them in light of current political issues and concerns.

This play will ask questions that make you feel uncomfortable, with answers you may not want to find out. For instance - why were women the only ones claimed as prizes by victors? Exploring autonomy and nationalism, war, and disaster, this play will take you past the worst case scenario, and show that the worst you ever imagined might only be the beginning.

The script has amazing potential, and although every cast member has some shining moments, the inconsistency of the acting lets down the narrative at some points. Shanaya Khubchandani as Lexie gave what was at times an inconsistent performance. It feels as if the writing of the play pushes Lexie into one of the prominent roles, and yet Khubchandani struggles to fully inhabit her character at times, undercutting the significance of what should be some of the play's most pivotal moments. Fortunately, her expressive movement in the interpretative dance sections gives her the much-needed depth which was lacking in her prose performance. The directorial choice to illustrate the monologues and dreams of the characters through interpretative dance adds depth and backstory without interrupting the progression of the plot.

Kirsty Haywood gives a captivating and well-realised performance as Sarah, achieving the right balance between aggressive, vulnerable and defiant. However, there are moments which need improvement: once or twice she speaks towards the back of the stage without raising her voice, muffling lines for the audience. Nevertheless, she is ultimately a very promising actress. The real showstopper is Liv Mason Pearson as Sadie. Pearson gives an accomplished, sensitive, and humorous performance, and her energy drives the narrative forward whenever her fellow cast members fall a bit flat. She is definitely one to watch.

Although underwhelming at points, 'YPFii' is ultimately an accomplished and sensitive production of a play with some challenging themes. Putney High Drama have produced a show that is enjoyable and thought-provoking.


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