Robert Tanitch reviews Yen at Royal Court Upstairs, London SW1
Anna Jordan award-winning play was first performed at Manchester’s Royal Exchange where it was highly praised. Yen, a story of brotherly love, tender and violent, is directed by Ned Bennett on a traverse stage.
Two brothers (Alex Austin and Jake Davies), aged 16 and 13, one downbeat, the other upbeat, abandoned by their parents, live in a grotty room, playing video games and watching porn. Considering their life-style their bodies are singularly clean.
They have a dog, an Alsatian, in the next room, off-stage, so vicious the boys have called him Taliban.
A 16-year-old Welsh girl (Annes Elwy), a dog-lover, befriends them and momentarily transforms the dog’s and the boys’ lives with a bit of kindness.
Davies and Austin may not be 13 and 16 but they are still remarkably convincing as kids in their teens. Davies, as the one who is normally cheerful, is very moving when he is pleading with his brother to let him keep the Alsatian.