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Plaudits for Billie Piper after first night of Yerma at Young Vic

Published 05/08/2016

Billie Piper's performance was described as 'towering'.
Billie Piper's performance was described as 'towering'.

Billie Piper has won rave reviews for her role as a woman obsessed by her infertility in the play Yerma.

The actress and former pop star, 33, is treading the boards at London's Young Vic in a revival of the 1934 play by Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca.

Critics have hailed the new production of the play, directed by Simon Stone, the "enfant terrible of young Australian theatre" and Piper's "towering" performance.

In a review for The Times, Kate Maltby wrote: "Remember when Billie Piper was a toothy teen? No, me neither.

"But if any ghosts still lingered of Piper's pop tart youth - synthetic disco anthems and that wedding to Chris Evans - they vanished for good last night in an extraordinary theatrical triumph at London's Young Vic."

Libby Purves wrote in The Daily Mail: "Piper is one of the most intense and exciting creatures on any stage: Could be Medea, Lady Macbeth, King Lear himself."

GQ's Eleanor Halls said: "When Piper got up to take a bow, her face was haggard, as if she had lived through Yerma's whole life in that single hour."

What's On Stage's Sarah Crompton wrote that "t hanks to the cleverness of (Simon Stone's) own adaptation and a devastating central performance by Billie Piper, it blows the dust off Federico Garcia Lorca's 1934 original and turns it into a challenging play for today".

She wrote that Piper was "superb at conveying" her character's agony.

"Her performance moves from the laughingly flirtatious to the absolutely distraught in incremental and beautifully described steps. By the close, she is unafraid to appear ugly and desperate; but en route what is impressive is the way the light seems to die from her eyes."

Hinting that the spotlight could be on Piper at the next theatre awards season, Hugh Montgomery wrote in iNews: "There's no question that the evening is dominated by Piper's towering turn.

"Initially, she is louche, witty and utterly charming; what's so masterful, however, is that even as she sinks into depression and mania, she emits a radiant charisma that makes her self-abnegation all the more heartbreaking."

:: Yerma runs at the Young Vic until September 24.

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