About Time You Saw: A Girl is a Half-Formed ThingBy Hayley Thompson
A story of a religious Irish upbringing, illness, abuse, and dangerously intimate relationships, told with electrifying urgency, arrives to the Young Vic stage. Starring actress Aoife Duffin, perhaps better known to audiences for her comedic role as Trisha in the award-winning series Moone Boy, this one woman show – A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – is an expertly performed work. Layered with subtle inflection, tone and expression to convincingly introduce each new character, Duffin is a delight.
As the piece begins the Girl’s (Aoife Duffin) dialogue is jumbled and strange. Quickly we learn we’re in Ireland, watching a family, and most importantly, a young girl growing up. There’s the feeling you’re about to see something special, yet sad and familiar. Watching the lone player on stage in bare surroundings helps direct audiences’ attention toward her. You’ll begin to settle into the mind of the Girl and make yourself at home in this disturbing environment.
First published in 2014, it took nine years for author Eimear McBride to get her book onto shelves. Once there, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing received an accolade of praise and soon after literary prizes. When it later landed on Annie Ryan’s kitchen table, the director of Dublin’s Corn Exchange, she devoured the book in one sitting. Reaching the final pages in the small hours of the morning and proclaiming; “it’s performable!”
Whilst the story is every inch as thought provoking as it is harrowing, it’s the performance by Aoife Duffin, which is really worth trekking to the theatre for. Her instant and subtle shape shifting will have you imagining whole rooms of people around her, while McBride’s plot will leave you gripping your chair, yet somehow, catching yourself laughing at the bizarre familiarities playing out on stage.
Originally produced by The Corn Exchange Theatre Company, as part of Dublin’s Theatre Festival in 2014 it was immediately praised for it’s entirely female voice and audiences quickly grew. Director Ryan says: “There is something radical about it just being from a girl’s point of view. I think that alone is so unusual. In Ireland particularly we have a lot of one-man shows; we haven’t had that much from a female.”
A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing is the turbulent journey of one girl’s struggle to grow up and find her voice, whilst being drowned out, by the people already speaking for her. Originally a book that begged to be heard, it’s now the stage show, which demands to be watched.
Now showing at the Young Vic until March 26th