Friday, 5 June 2015

Avocado - West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (On behalf of The Public Reviews)

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews and the link can be accessed here.

Photo Credit: Anthony Robling
(Accessed from

Eve Ensler, an award winning playwright and author of The Vagina Monologues, presents her world premiere play, Avocado, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  The short play is part of the theatre’s popular Play Pie & Pint series.
The West Yorkshire Playhouse, who works with asylum and refugee communities locally and regionally, commissioned Ensler to write Avocado which offers the opportunity to look at issues of concern such as human trafficking, forced servitude and slavery and journeys which many female migrants face today.
Rebecca Grant performs this one woman play which echoes the playwright’s feelings of these issues.  At the beginning the audience is asked to close their eyes and imagine what is like not remembering exactly where they are and everything that is held dear has slipped away.   Grant plays well the young woman very intensely and dramatically and portrays a lot of emotions including conscription of fear to sheer frustration.  The “container” is the existence which the young woman travels in and shares her experience in being a victim of forced slavery and prostitution.  Many women are experiencing a similar plight today after being tricked in believing that they will have a better life.
The stage is very dark with next to no lighting which reflects metaphorically the plight’s horror with Mic Pool’s dramatic and circumstantial soundscapes giving maximum effect.  There is crucial lighting, however, to reflect some hope and trust in humankind that she hangs on to.  There are references to “Angels dancing to water” and symbolically the softness in babies and avocadoes, rotting amidst her in the “container”, representing the maternal links and the yearning to be loved.
The “container” is the “box” chosen which offers escape towards asylum and potential freedom. Ensler sums up this choice from a line in the play:
"This is why I chose this box.  Why I got in.  Why I chose this cage over the cage of being caught"
A panel discussion with a question and answer session takes place afterwards with experts sharing their thoughts about modern slavery and what drives it and looking in broader context, asylum seekers and refugees and migration in general.
Mark Rosenblatt delivers a highly recommended, hard-hitting and very thought provoking play where crucial issues are addressed particularly in the asylum and refugees communities, which certainly challenges existing perceptions.

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