Prize Winning Yen

Anna Jordan’s Yen was the winner of the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, and is at the Royal Exchange studio from 18 Feb to 7 March.

This is a truly brilliant and brutal play about the consequences of growing up without boundaries, and without valid role models.  The play has a wonderful physicality that brings the barely civilised nature of Hench and Bobbie’s lives into the open.  The sparse but effective set is bounded by two frames which both restrict and offer a place to climb.  But what is most powerful about this play is the way that Anna Jordan uses her vivid language to portray the characters; nothing is laboured and nothing is judgemental.  And there is superb use of humour which brings out the absurdity of the situation these two boys find themselves in.  The conclusion is by no means inevitable, but in the end it seems natural.

Four Bruntwood Prizes, fifteen winners, but most performed in the Studio.  On the main stage there have been successes, most notably Britannia Waves the Rules which ran in rep with Last Days of Troy in 2014, and the popular Mogadishu in 2011.  I was never convinced by ‘Pretend You have Big Buildings’ from 2007 which seemed unfinished.  Meanwhile a lot of good writing has been shown in the studio.   2013’s big piece of new writing (but not from the Bruntwood Prize), Rory Mullarkey’s amazing Cannibals, was given a main stage billing and received critical acclaim but poor audiences.

Yen is a powerful, imaginative play that deserves its Bruntwood Prize and deserves to be performed to a wider audience on the main stage.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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