Review: Build A Rocket at The Studio at Holden Street Theatres

By Yona Eagle

Holden street theatre has a huge reputation for bringing Adelaide the strongest shows from Edinburgh as well as other innovative shows.


I had reservations about Build A Rocket despite it winning the Edinburgh fringe award in 2018 and the apparent rave reviews.


Another play about a single mother? Written by a young man Christopher York - his debut play - what does he know about being a single mum? Hasn’t this theme been done to death?

I am happy to admit I was so wrong!


Stephen Joseph Theatre and Tara Finney Productions present us this first of a play starring the young chameleon actress Serena Manteghi. Serena is a one - man ensemble cast embodying Yasmin and her friends from the age of 16 and onward. Manteghi also then takes on Yasmin’s mother, Jack her son, Danny, Jacks father, John the needy landlord and so on.


The set that Yasmin literally revolves around is an old fashioned merry - go - round, not seen any more as they are deemed to be unsafe. A stroke of genius by designer Helen Coyston. This serves to remind us that Yasmin has never grown up, and will never truly leave the playground as she will return shortly to it with her young son. We get the impression that she is usually on the precipice of something dangerous.


Other than Serena’s performance - She could read a dictionary and make you eagerly sit at it edge of your seat - it was the layers that young Mr York evolved in such a short time.

Despite the first half of the play still playing out the typical 16 year old pregnancy story and playing for full emotional impact, he obviously thought hard at how to make this relevant to the millennials where contraception should be de rigeur and teenage pregnancy a thing of the past.


Born in Scarborough, he presented us his town. I could vividly imagine the streets.


I knew exactly the alcoholic mother type who left Yasmin to fend for herself. Yasmin revealed the inner strength she developed and despite a lack of support, education and finances, still managed to raise an intellectually bright son whilst keeping social services away. Rather than allow history to repeat itself Yasmin garnered all life’s tough lessons to prevail and grew up herself with her son.


I particularly enjoyed York’s use of the symbolism of Icarus and Daedalus that Yasmin expounds. This alludes to the origins of Jacks intelligence but reminds us again that Yasmin’s intelligence was never allowed to blossom. Yasmin guides us through the years of Jack’s life with lightning speed, with poignancy and with laughter and at no stage does she give herself any credit for these events.


It’s powerful and touching and shouldn’t be missed.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.

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