Build A Rocket, Stephen Joseph Theatre @ The Pleasance, London

Written by Christopher York
Directed by Paul Robinson
Starring Serena Manteghi
18th September – 23rd September 2018

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This explosive one-woman performance, Build a Rocket by Stephen Joseph Theatre certainly brought life and laughter to my Thursday evening. Upon entering the wide main stage of The Pleasance I suppressed the urge to dance to the urban beats playing loud and proud through the speakers. The stage, with minimal set of a mock-up kids’ roundabout, was lit by bright lights above like a scatter of orange stars, or the lighting in a edgy indie cafe.

The story was not necessarily new to our ears: teenage girl Yasmin comes from a troubled family life, gets mixed up with a dodgy lad, and ends up pregnant and struggling for cash. HOWEVER (capitals for effect) it was the execution by Serena Manteghi that was incredibly unpredictable and had you utterly transfixed.

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We followed the ballsy protagonist Yasmin’s life through underage nights out, tough GCSE’s, falling in and out of love, struggling through pregnancy, giving birth, and the tough task of parenting. Although this may sound mundane, the style in which these events were portrayed were creative and often hilarious. One of my favourite artistic choices was the use of a stereotypical game show to portray the stress of her GCSE’s; another was when blue lighting swamped the stage and she moved as though walking on the moon… (I could carry on, but to list all my highlights would be to describe the whole piece!) The direction by Paul Robinson was superb; the stage always felt full, and the clarity when Manteghi was multi-rolling proved he certainly has an eye for detail.

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Drip-fed beautiful moments of spoken word within the constant storytelling flow allowed the audience to take a breath and truly appreciate the text. YET (I’m not sure why I’m a big fan of capitals today…) I cannot stress enough: although this was definitely text heavy performance the physicality was equality as outstanding. As Manteghi jumped from character to character with ability and precision, we were taken through a whirlwind of emotions alongside her most protagonist Yasmin. From the moment Manteghi entered, the stage was alive, and from there the ball never stopped rolling. Thanks to her commitment and energy I happily suspended my disbelief and was immersed in the story.

If you want to liven up your week with an exceptional performer, a storm of emotions, and a lot of laughter then book your ticket to Build a Rocket and get yourself to The Pleasance… I promise you won’t regret it!

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