Yous Two (NHB Modern Plays)

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Yous Two (NHB Modern Plays)

Yous Two (NHB Modern Plays)

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What the bloody hell do you think yous are doing?! You were making hooch, so we smashed up your still.

The Jungle at the Young Vic. It’s one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen, it’s extraordinary, full of warmth and humanity. It really shows you what theatre can do. We can see that this might be a natural response on the part of immigrants (and not just Italians) whose first languages had both singular and plural forms. A fantastic bit of writing. Christou deftly hits the peaks and troughs of a father-daughter relationship as it spins endlessly between laughter and argument… an impressive and very funny debut play' The Stage Joseph Thompson's theatre work includes Earthquakes in London (Headlong Theatre tour) and The Voysey Inheritance (National Theatre).The word ye, yis or yous, otherwise archaic, is still used in place of "you" for the second-person plural. Ye'r, Yisser or Yousser are the possessive forms, e.g. " Where are yous going?" Not two pennies to rub together, the soles hanging off his shoes, and not even a coat to keep him warm. I’ve accepted this but, in the interest of regaining some dignity, I do have a theory about its origins. New York is a city of immigrants who, like my grandparents, may have learned the English language but may have also retained some of the grammar of the home country. In English we express the plural of “you” with “you two” or “you three” or, in Katie Couric’s case, “you all.” But in Latin languages it is expressed with one word that, literally translated would be “yous” (for example: vous in French or vosotros in Spanish).

With its 70 minutes distributed over nine neat scenes, Yous Two is a short play but a resonant one. Chelsea Walker’s vigorous production, with a cutaway design by Rosanna Vize, has four excellent performances: Shannon Tarbet’s Billie is sparky but also thoughtful, even melancholic, often more mature than her dad (Joseph Thompson as a lovable rogue). Leah Harvey’s Rachel and Ali Barouti’s Fudge are likewise vivid character studies, completely convincing. Parenthood can be both empowering and fragile, and Christou’s debut is thrilling in its aplomb and in her potential. Definitely a name to watch. You-uns (from you + ones) is a South Midland form most often found in uneducated speech; it is being replaced by you-all. What? Can I go to the toilet? Away, you wee fanny! Boabby? I don't need the toilet! Where do you keep the scampi fries? Oh, in that box above the chest freezer, Mark. He tossed off half of the drink and I gave him a refill. "What can I do for youse?" "First off, information."

Visiting Johannesburg for a research and development trip with playwright Jess Sian, when we were working on her debut play Klippies. Theatre is much more frontfooted in its politics over there.

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