DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

The Fruit Trilogy – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Writer: Eve Ensler

Director: Mark Rosenblatt

Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood

Eve Ensler’s The Fruit Trilogy consists of three plays, Avocado, Coconut and Pomegranate and is receiving its world premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in conjunction with the Southbank Centre. This follows on from the successful run of Avocado last year which formed part of the theatre’s Play Pie &Pint series.

Each play, amid different settings, explores honestly the widespread exploitation of women’s bodies and their struggle to claim them as their own.

The trilogy opens with Pomegranate, where two women who work in a brothel and are on “sale”. They share a contrast of opinions between the impossible possibility and hope and the realistic reality of being figuratively dead. Lily Arnold’s clever staging illustrates how both a typical day is seen and emotions being expressed by Amelia Donkor and Carla Harrison-Hodge as Items one and two placed on a shelf. This poignantly indicates that their bodies are owned by others but themselves.

Next follows the one woman play, Avocado; Harrison-Hodge performs intensely and dramatically as the young woman in this condensed revival and echoes emotionally how trapped she is. The “container” symbolises the existence of being a victim of forced slavery and prostitution. Numerous innuendoes and metaphoric references to objects and scents, imply that she doesn’t have any control over her life whatsoever. Peter Rice’s dramatic soundscapes accompany the woman’s narration and the stage is dark which reflects metaphorically the young woman’s plight. There is some lighting on stage, albeit very restricted. Lizzie Powell’s lighting cleverly interprets the young woman’s escape and her yearning to be free.

Finally, Coconut intimately explores, from a mystical experience in the bathroom, how a woman is finally connected to something she never owned. Suspense, atmospheric soundscapes and candles intimately buildup the woman’s experience; Donkor, playing the woman, begins by “opening a portal” to her foot where she applies coconut oil and shares her body experiences literally and figuratively. She recalls how her body was a commodity to others and now wants to feel her own flesh from “dancing in the fire” and being the “messenger of own deliverance” from softness, moisture to light.

This trilogy certainly raises awareness and gives voices to many women who are enslaved through forced servitude, human trafficking and prostitution. This 70 minute well presented condensed play certainly gives a lot of food (fruit) for thought, and how sad that these issues are at the forefront of the headlines which today affect many ordinary women.

Runs until 9 April 2016 | Image: Alice the Camera

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