A Girl is a Half Formed Thing

Performer: Aoife Duffin
Director & script: Annie Ryan
Book: Eimear McBride
all-female production

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name.
In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say.
Mammy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say.
I’d say that’s what you did. Then lay you down.
They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.

Eimar McBride, A Girl is a Half Formed Thing

I’d given up going to plays for they were all boring, trying so hard not to be. With the ‘dik bovenop‘ Dutch way of acting. Actually I had come to hate going to the theatre all together. But when one has a son in London, and this son is himself very much into acting, one ends up at the Young Vic before knowing it, queuing for a sold out play, begging for a forgotten seat. For an afternoon performance the son had picked up totally at random, mind you.

I have never, never been so touched by a play. It blew my mind. It blew my heart. At the end when my son asked how I had found it, I could not tell. I was sobbing head in hands, aching.

Aoife Duffin had shattered my heart with her breathtaking performance. For one and a half hour she had stood alone on a bare stage, speaking this unbearably beautiful language of Eimar McBride. A language I craved to discover but never seemed to find. Modern, raw, beyond rules. “What a text, what a text” I was whispering to myself. As much as I fancy myself a writer, I will never be able to write in such a manner and I am very, very sorry for it. Almost a reason to stop trying at all.

There is only this one girl, it’s her story. In her story many have a role of their own: the mother, the father, the brother, the uncle, the aunt, the schoolmate. Aoife plays them all. No pause to tell you who is who, the words come one right after the other in an endless stream, just as in the book. From the words you have to guess. The words tell you.

It is difficult to hear, difficult to read, difficult to comprehend and difficult to bear. Nevertheless you are nailed to your seat and to those words. You are hypnotised by this Irish girl in her pyjama’s, telling, in her splendid Kerry Irish, 27 years old writer Eimear McBride’s first story with great power and great involvement. It is drama and the dramatic elements are such that I normally shun in whatever form of art, broadcasting or literature – ‘too easy’ effect. But here, it is transcended by the unforeseen beauty of the writing and by the fact that those dramatic elements are told by a girl who is never apologetic nor hateful. She is a strong minded little thing growing up into a strong minded woman telling her difficult story without shame nor spite. It is heart wrenching and beautiful. Awe.

How has the London audience become that spoiled that they barely clapped for a second curtain call? Which is, according to my son, quite a rarity itself. Fortunately they NEVER stand, thank god for that.

A must see for everyone who loves the theatre. A must read for everyone who loves words.





13 responses

  1. Hugo Luijten is momenteel de beste stem op nurks, beter nog dan Molovich, want als die niet van tijd tot tijd gekrenkt wordt dan verzandt die in kleinhuiselijke prietpraat.
    Oud Zeikwijf is en blijft de zwakste schakel. Irritant veel ego, verdrietig makend weinig talent. Alleen wanneer zij hier een tijdje niet verschijnt, is het hier leuk.

    • Maar zij is hier bijna altijd. Kun je uitleggen wat jij hier dan doet? Kun je dat eigenlijk aan jezélf uitleggen?

  2. Een van de Nederlandse woorden die ik lang maar moeilijk kon plaatsen is ‘sneu’. Ik denk er nu een toepassing voor te hebben gevonden. Ik vind u een sneue frustraat, mevrouw of meneer Mijmeraar.

  3. Ach, Oud Zeikwijf in tranen, met d’r hoofd in haar handen, ik zou zeggen: een gedroomde recensie voor dat stuk. En tranen doen soms goed. Maar wie, wie, noemt er zijn kind Aoife?
    Komt het stuk nog vertaald naar Nederland?

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