Yesterday I started (for myself) a new theatre season at the Project Arts Center. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a play there, so I was very much looking forward to this performance: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (written by Eimear McBride, adapted and directed by Annie Ryan, performed by Aoife Duffin) premiered during Dublin Theatre Festival’14 at The Samuel Beckett Center. Originally “A girl is a half-formed thing” was written as a novel. It has won quite a big number of literary prizes, among which Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction, Desmond Elliott Prize and many others. At the moment, “Girl is a half-formed thing” is one and only of McBride´s novels. She’s working on her second.
During the Dublin Theatre Festival the play was very well received and it got some excellent reviews. So when The Corn Exchange decided to bring it back to Dublin I thought that no doubt I should go. I was just very curious what was exactly that the people loved so much about it, to be honest.
The tickets are a bit pricy for the run, so I decided to go on the first (preview) night, which cost me 16 Eur. I went with a friend, who also brought a friend. As with all the performing spaces in Project Arts, the seats are not allocated, basically you can sit wherever you want. So we arrived just in time to snap up good seats in the first row.
If it wasn’t sold out, there should’ve been very few tickets left as the place was absolutely packed. For those of you who are familiar with Project Arts Center, the play was performed in the space upstairs, which is quite a nice and spacious area. The first row is a bit away from the stage, so it allows you a slightly better view.
Before anything, I should probably mention that I am not the biggest fan of one man/woman shows. But, at the same time, I just have to acknowledge that some of the one person shows I’ve seen were exceptionally good (the first one that comes to mind is definitely Pondling by Gúna Nua. I’ve seen it twice!). After all, this time I didn’t really know what to expect so I just kept open-minded.
I’ve never read the novel therefore I can’t really compare it to the stage adapted version. The first thing that struck me was that the girl on stage (Aoife Duffin) wasn’t telling the story as a monologue, but actually, at times, she was playing different parts. On a very simple basis, of course. But it did throw me off a little bit. The next thing was: the play is clearly written by a very disturbed person. The story is shocking. But it’s like there’s no light whatsoever. It goes from bad to worse. It’s not real life, so why don’t you add some sort of positivity or something that won’t make you want to kill yourself after watching it. It is my personal opinion: I don’t understand what’s the point of basically hearing a story about somebody being constantly raped by a family member; in addition to which, the child has no father, a mother who doesn’t really care, and a brother who dies of cancer…
Some people might say “yeah, well, that’s life for some of us”. Even if it is, there’s always something we cling to, something we go back to at the darkest moments to stay happy, to stay sane. Every story is a story about coping with problems. We are all humans, we don’t need to be told what kind of problems there are out there, but how to deal with them, how to remain positive.
In addition to all that, the technical side wasn’t great, either (again, comparing to Pondling where the set and the directing were simply amazing!). There was no set, no costume (the girl was wearing pjs). There was not a single prop (which is ok), nothing, not a single thing to make it look believable, something we could relate to, something to show us a connection between the story and the story teller.
The only thing that actually is worth mentioning was the great acoustics. Aoife’s voice sounded really clear and powerful.
I didn’t like the show. Neither did my friend. Or her friend. They described it as “horrific”. The audience seemed to have a better opinion about it since the performance got a standing ovation at the end.
I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone I know. But for those of you who got interested: it’s running till the 14th of February. Tickets available at: http://projectartscentre.ie/event/girl-half-formed-thing/