You For Me For You
Royal Court Theatre
10 December 2015
You For Me For You had it’s world premier in 2012 and is now playing at The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square until 9 January 2016. It is a frantic and complex story about refugees and so it is a play for the times. In this tale the refugees are 2 women from the ‘best nation in the world’- North Korea.
The play offers a window into the life of Minhee and Junhee in their home country and then on into the very different outcomes of their flight. Junhee makes the journey to a new life in America whilst Minhee stumbles and is left in a hole. Literally. The overall effect of the play’s montage of scenes is ephemeral. Just when the direction of the story seems obvious, the scene changes and the obvious becomes blurred.
This effect is enhanced in the design of Jon Bauser. The opening scene is entrenched in normality but as the narrative advances, normality is left behind and all is refracted by the mirrored set. Minhee and Junhee hurtle down an Alice in Wonderland like tunnel into a surreal world. It is for the audience to decide which scenes are real and which live in the minds of the protaganists. It is often a stunningly beautiful scene and at other times disturbing. It is also unique for every member of the audience as the reflections change with the viewing angle.
Supporting this are clever lighting and sound designs and the use of projected images.
Minhee is beautifully played by Wendy Kweh who defines her character and shapes her performance with great skill. She evokes time and emotion with seeming ease. The younger sister, Minhee is likewise well crafted by Katie Leung. Leung portrays Minhee as feisty and slightly rebellious but still shows a foter vulnerability at times.
The supporting cast are all very strong. Daisy Haggard plays Liz, who is first seen as an American shop assistant. The audience hear the language from the perspective of Junhee, that is, as a foreign language. Haggard executes this very well and it is fascinating as to how the language develops in subsequent scenes.
Paapa Essiedu gives a convincingly sympathetic love interest to Junhee as Wade.
Kwong Loke and Andrew Leung both play multiple roles effectively contribute to the ensemble.
You For Me For You is a well crafted and significant piece that gives its audiences an opportunity to connect briefly with a situation that needs to be experienced to be fully understood.