Build a Rocket (Rating 4/5)
Christopher York’s one-woman play tells the story of Yasmin, a teenage girl growing up in Scarborough and who has just learned she is pregnant. It starts with her writing an angry email to the person she believes is the father, using words she admits she didn’t know existed until she came across them in a thesaurus.
The only surprise so far is that she has a thesaurus. Yasmin appears to be the stereotypical working-class person written by middle class writers for a middle-class audience, who can laugh at her for being feisty.
It’s only when Yasmin is contemplating whether or not to keep her baby that the script manages to rise above the clichés it is in danger of getting mired in. She now starts to respond and cope with all the obstacles in her path rather than simply to react to them, and both the character and the script achieve a level of maturity they were largely lacking until that point.
It still falls behind Gary Owen’s 2015 award-winning Iphigenia in Splott as a study of a troubled pregnant teen, but what lifts it above a lot of similar plays is the tour-de-force performance of Serena Manteghi as Yasmin.
She manages to inhabit the personalities of a wide range of characters as her narrative takes in her mother, teachers, boyfriend, and a host of others who we see through her eyes.
Manteghi is already a great talent with tremendous energy and it’s hard to see anyone else bringing the script to life in the way she does.
Not a great play, but one that is more than saved by a great performance.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 August