Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Review Hyem (Yem, Hjem, Home)

Peter Barker makes himself at home with a warm-hearted play marking the debut of a promising writer. 

Hyem (Yem, Hjem, Home)
by Philip Correia

Where The Heart Is

On a run-down Northumberland estate, Sylv and husband Mick keep open house for s series of young misfits, alongside a dog and a python named after screen icons Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.   
Hyem is a Geordie colloquialism for home, and home is a place where safety isn’t assured for children or adults, according to Philip Correia’s flawed but vastly enjoyable first play.

Surrounded by hostile neighbours, Sylv (Charlie Hardwick) from the North East and Mick (Patrick Driver), a committed far-left winger originally from down south, have welcomed a disparate collection of young outsiders. into their hyem.

First comes tattooed, rebellious Dean (Joe Blakemore), then teenage schoolgirls Laura (Aimee Kelly) and Shelley (Sarah Balfour) and now the teenage boy Dummey (Ryan Nolan).

Writer Correia, originally from Blyth and also an actor, has a sharp ear for dialogue, a nice line in   banter and comedy and creates an interestingly fraught situation as the new arrival causes resentment in the loose hierachy of the household.

He peoples the stage with some well-drawn characters and there are strong moments and scenes. Shelleyand Dummey have to grapple with the six-foot python escaping and Mick gives Dummey a driving lesson in some hilarious set pieces.

However the characters are often stronger than the plot. While it's 2003 with Brits and Americans poised to topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and a career in the military having taken away the couple's son, this all feels more like wallpaper than an integral part of the story.

There are moments when possible plots - a political cadet school, intimations about sexual grooming - present themselves but they are then dismissed.  The script does have a tendency to drift away and is structured more like a screenplay than a stage piece.

In spite of this, director Jonny Kelly draws excellent performances from all the cast with Nolan’s initially taciturn and round-shouldered Dummey as the innocent heart of the play.

Balfour’s energy as Shelley and Kelly’s innocent seductress Laura convey powerfully the urges of teenage life while also having half a foot in the more guileless world of childhood.

Designer Jasmine Swan has assembled an evocatively jumbled set. The front room has a cheap sofa and an even cheaper print painting of an idealized young girl complemented by a plethora of photos framed on the wall -- portraits of families, cars and memories.

Playwright Correia nevertheless veers towards televisual soap opera, especially in the final 20 minutes where a short series of shocks leaves each character at a climatically hysterical end to their arcs.

This strikes a jarring, contrived note in an amber light play which still shows Correia to be a playwright of enormous promise.

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