A powerhouse performance from Serena Manteghi almost blasts Build a Rocket into spectacular territory.
Manteghi is Yasmin, an in-your-face and up-for-it 16-year-old from the wrong side of the tracks whom once upon a time would have been labelled a ‘chav’. Still in high school and with a troubled homelife – her mother is an alcoholic – she hits the clubs with her mates, running amuck and having a laugh. With energy to burn, she’s quick-witted, rough around the edges and smarter than she lets on. Then she hooks up with a local DJ and everything changes.
When it comes time to sit her exams, Yasmin is hit with two shocks: she is pregnant with her DJ boyfriend’s child and he is sleeping with her best friend. Abandoned by her mother and the father of her unborn child, Yasmin decides to keep the child to raise it alone. We then go on an emotional rollercoaster as we witness Yasmin’s switch from hard-edged teen to a struggling but loving mother battling prejudice and economic hardships from a world that doesn’t much care about a single teen mother from the wrong side of the tracks.
Though the plot and themes cover well-worn territory, what makes Build a Rocket work is the realism of Manteghi’s dynamic performance as Yasmin. Watching her relationship with her son evolve over the years requires a captivating multi-dimensional performance, which Manteghi delivers with raw emotional honesty.
From a script by Christopher York, his first, and directed by Paul Robinson, Build a Rocket is raw life-affirming theatre that overcomes a few clichéd obstacles with a lead character and performance that enthrals.
Build a Rocket
Until Sunday, March 17
Holden Street Theatres, The Studio