Review: A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing. Curve Leicester. Studio.

five star

A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing (touring from The Corn Exchange in association with Cusack Projects Ltd) currently tears the heart and mind asunder at the Studio space at Leicester Curve. Award winning actress Aoife Duffin stars in this poetic adaptation of Eimear McBride’s novel by playwright Annie Ryan. A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is directed in this production  by Annie Ryan and produced by Lucy Ryan. Set designer Lian Bell and music and sound designer is Mel Mercier. Atmospheric lighting design by Sinead Wallace.


The ninety minute stage monologue  creatively tells the essence of McBride’s  visceral novel through its heroine’s tragic loving experiences. The theatre piece is offered up as an inner narrative of the girl from pre-birth to the age of twenty.  Early on Girl is asked to tell her Granddad the result of her IQ test – Average. This is seen as an achievement in her family.  Catholic religion features heavy in the story- telling and it walks hand in guilty hand with a mighty dose of sins of the flesh and regular fornication as a way to be wanted in life/ to be accepted in life. Teenage sex is a weapon but the physical actions and results lead to confusion and, to quote the script,  ‘an awful lot of sore’.


Girl is used and abused but she uses these experiences to observe humankind or in her case – human unkind. There is more than a hint of Samuel Beckett in this cruelly gripping piece including the side lit void in which the play unfolds. There is dark humour and some degree of real love offered the heroine through her fondness for her sick brother.


Most compelling is a monologue within the main monologue that creates an inner beat to the block of words with the repetitious phrase “I met a man, I met a man… I let him throw me round the bed. And smoked me, spliffs and choked my neck until I said I was dead…”. Like much of the piece it links sex and violence with a surreal subtext. Towards the end of the play these links get progressively more harmful to Girl and whilst difficult to listen to (such is the intense verbal imagery of rape, violence and bodily reaction) the result is a dramatic tour de force from Aoife Duffin.

Thankfully, no late coming audience members are allowed into the playing space once the show has started. To allow this and the inevitable trickle of “Sorry, excuse me, sorrys – pass me a sweety” would be a total insult to the huge talents that have created this magnetic and deeply poetic piece. It is rare to consider a piece of theatre an honour and privilege to experience but during its current ‘limited edition’ tour of five UK venues with only a few performances at each, this reviewer feels very honoured to have witnessed something that may well go done in theatre history. The audience at Curve are completely electrified by Aoifie Duffin’s depiction of the book on stage. Book asap.

Tickets: 0116 2423595

Runs from 11th until 13th Feb at Curve.


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