Tortured Love And Slavery In Yarico

By Stuart Black Last edited 35 months ago
Tortured Love And Slavery In Yarico ★★★☆☆ 3
Cast of Yarico. Photo by Honeybunn Photography.
Cast of Yarico. Photo by Honeybunn Photography.
Liberty Buckland (Yarico) and Alex Spinney (Inkle). Photo by Honeybunn Photography.
Liberty Buckland (Yarico) and Alex Spinney (Inkle). Photo by Honeybunn Photography.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yarico is a true-ish tale set in the 1650s. An Amerindian girl (Liberty Buckland) is sold into slavery when her weak-willed British husband Inkle (Alex Spinney) loses her in a drunken dice game. The story then skips across the ocean as Yarico’s misfortunes take her to a brutal sugar plantation in Barbados, as far removed from her prelapsarian island home as she can imagine. It’s a grand, sweeping vision that also includes tall ships, a slave auction, salty port taverns and the mansions of the white colonial elite.

And what makes this show especially impressive is that all this far-flung action is shoe-horned into a pokey space above a pub in Parsons Green. The team behind the project (which includes model Jodie Kidd as producer) does extremely well to maintain its vision, despite the venue’s limitations, with a big-hearted show that finds space for 11 actors and a four-piece band.

It is a touch claustrophobic at times but the young and talented ensemble mostly manages to turn this proximity into intimacy. There's little doubt that Yarico deserves a transfer to a bigger theatre where it would have room to breathe. And with a bit of work ironing out the shallower moments (the opening island sequence has a second degree Disney feel), it could develop nicely into a Les Mis style crowd-pleaser.

The music is certainly a cut above and in lead actress Liberty Buckland as Yarico it has a genuine star. Buckland may be making her debut here but she owns the tunes and brings real heat to the opening chapters before the cold pathos that comes with the later crises in the story. The tickets may seem a bit steep for a show in a pub, but you can at least see where the money's being spent (which is not always the case) and you'll definitely see some of this cast and crew move on to big things in the future.

Yarico runs at the London Theatre Workshop, 65 New Kings Road (above the Eel Brook Public House), SW6 until 14 March. Tickets are £22/£18. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 02 March 2015