(reviewed at the Norwich Playhouse on 13 May as par of the 2015 Norfolk & Norwich Festival)
Annie Ryan has adapted the Irish novelist Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing into a one-woman play for Aoife Duffin. It has been brought to the 2015 Norfolk & Norwich Festival by the Dublin-based physical theatre company The Corn Exchange.
It is at times a savage indictment of rural Ireland, where a daughter is valued less than a son – especially if the mother has hopes of him becoming a priest – and is expected to behave meekly, not to say subserviently.
Duffin begins in half-light(both Mel Mercier’s music and sound and Sinéad Wallace’s lighting are effective) as the girl struggles from her mother’s womb, not really wanted even before she is born. Her father has given up, anyway, and walked out of the family.
Even before she is a teenager subject to her uncle’s full sexual assault, she knows that there’s no point in saying what she thinks or believes. No-one will listen anyway. Why would they? she’s just a girl on the threshold of womanhood.
It’s a bravura performance from Duffin from start to its half-light submerged finish as the stream of consciousness script pours out in its wordy torrents. You can see why it has won awards on the festival circuit. It’s brilliant and meant to touch the heart. I’m not sure that always occurs.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing runs at the Norwich Playhouse until 16 May.