Yvette is a one woman show about adolescence, race, family and sexuality. Writer and performer Urielle Klein-Mekongo assembles an emotional and poignant piece of artistry based partially on her own personal experiences. Adeptly utilising a mish-mash of performance techniques including spoken word, original recording and physical theatre, she weaves together a performance which is emotive both audibly and visibly.
Her acting in itself is superb, creating a distinct voice for Yvette as well as providing comedy in her mother, Hello Kitty underwear and her impatience to use her JLS condoms to lose her virginity. However, that which had been funny also quickly turns sour: rather than shouting things the audience can laugh at, her mother’s screams grow harsh and cruel, and the “Uncle” who was never really an uncle becomes the menacing elephant in the room as the show climaxes. The light-hearted nature the show possesses at the outset dulls down to a menacing spectacle. The same bathtub which acts as the set of one awkwardly hilarious shaving scene becomes a symbol of bitter self-hate and anger at the shows turn, ultimately turning into the setting for the beginning of the most distressing moments of the play.
However, despite the stark distinctions in atmosphere at the play’s beginning and end, the progression of the narrative is not strictly linear. The reliving of Yvette’s early teen years is interspersed with literal intervals of white noise and raw pain in Klein-Mekongo’s character which predisposes the audience to the fact that something big is headed our way. As the pieces of Yvette’s teen years fall into place we are left still unprepared for the climatic, cataclysmic results of society’s, her friends’ and even her mother’s condemnation of her, and the horror which ensues in the aftermath.
Painfully honest and unequivocally anguished, Urielle Klein-Mekongo breaks into her debut at the Edinburgh Fringe with a performance that will not easily be forgotten. Despite the biographical pain which it exhibits and relives, she emerges resilient, defiant and urging us to talk. May she return with many more stories to tell.
Words: Emily Hay
Yvette, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 2-26 (not 14), 2.15pm