DramaNorth WestReview

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing – Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

Writer: Eimear McBride

Adaptor / Director: Annie Ryan

Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin

A one-person show with no props, no smart set and only the lighting and sound technician as a live ally must be a daunting prospect. When you have also to portray a wide range of characters then it’s a real challenge. But when you are offered the right material, such challenges are a lip-smacking opportunity for any actor worth their salt.

Aoife Duffin rises to that challenge and holds the audience in the palm of her hand, despite being dwarfed by a huge auditorium. Indeed the piece would have probably suited a studio-sized space better, which would add to the intensity of the drama.

Telling of a girl’s journey of growing up, virtually ignored by a mother obsessed with a sickly brain-damaged brother. She is twisted by the abuse heaped upon her by her uncle and responds to this neglect with wild and rebellious actions.

The wonderful variety of moods and sharp, often startling changes of pace, are well directed by Ryan and executed by Duffin. A key factor in keeping the both tension and attention during this 100-minute straight through production. In the main Duffin skilfully handles switching characters but occasionally the changes are not immediately clear, while appreciating director Annie Ryan’s driving passion for the narrative to be told in this very minimalist style the odd prop might help so many characters. Duffin’s ability to convey such a range of emotions so effectively is terrific. The sinister slime of her abuser is superbly chilling.

Although essentially a harrowing play, the humour and absurdity of the Girl’s life is delightfully woven into Ryan’s adaptation of Eimear McBride’s award-winning novel. The current tour follows in the wake of being an understandable hit both in Dublin and Edinburgh and boasts the rare accolade of a plaudit from Amnesty International.

This show is not for the squeamish, nor the easily shocked. But it is a pearl of a well- formed thing.

Runs till April 9, 2016 | Image:Mihaela Bodlovic

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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