Writer: Eimear McBride
Director &adaptation: Annie Ryan
Reviewer: Ciara Murphy
Eimear McBrides original novelA Girl is a Half Formed Thinghas seen huge success since it’s release in 2013 and it’s adaptation by Annie Ryan for the Dublin Theatre Festival has fared no differently. Astounding and touching audiences, this play’s reputation precedes it. The gritty, heartfelt and gripping tale about the adolescence of a young girlis performed by Aoife Duffin.
Theplay originally premiered at Trinity’s Samuel Beckett Theatre and the performance’s journey to the large black box stage in Project Arts Centre has its challenges. The set, designed by Lian Bell, is sparse, amounting to a large, dark space with a dusting of foliage on the ground and four rectangular panels of light. This reviewer feels that the space could have been reworked to make it more dynamic. As it stood Duffin was the only dynamic force in the performance and one feels that the performance spacecould have met her halfway.
In every other aspecthoweverA Girl is A Half Formed Thingexcelled. Duffin was astounding and the performance’s eighty minute duration rushed by in what felt like several exhilarating seconds. Duffin was in total command of the space and her character, balancing youthful innocence with harrowing abuses, and displaying her troubled character in a dynamic, believable and gripping way. McBride’s characters are so believable that the action onstage is at times hard to take.Ryan’s direction ensured that the effect was powerful and the performance’s many moments of tension were augmented by a superb lighting design (Sinéad Wallace).
The audience were gripped by the action from the very first moments right until the end. The play’s dramatic ending left an audible silence hanging in the room before the applause began. Theatre like this illustratesjust how importantit is to have an open dialogue about difficult subject matter.
A Girl is a Half Formed Thing is a powerful piece of theatre and a performance that everyone should see. Astounding.
Photo courtesy of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Runs until 14th February in Project Arts Centre and on tour across Ireland until February 28th.