By Holli Harms
Which direction we take ourselves in and which direction life takes us is the basis for Dennis Kelly’s shocking new play Girls & Boys starring, in a triumphant solo performance, the radiant Carey Mulligan.
The play opens with Ms. Mulligan’s Woman explaining how she met her future husband – a meeting with hilarity, assumptions and expectations that will all, by the end of the play, spiral out of control and shatter.
In Italy, Woman has just encountered a man while waiting for her flight. Her first impression of him is nothing remarkable and yet his subsequent encounter with two models changes her perception of him and ultimately her life’s trajectory.
They fall in love, change careers, find success, lose success, have children and… and…
the unexpectedness of life happens. We have one idea of ourselves and how our lives will play out, but then, as we all know, life happens. We row our boats as fast as possible to get to the other bank, but we do not consider the tides, the whirlpools, the dead water that will move us with or without our permission.
There is a saying, “When you come to the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Ms. Mulligan’s Woman does exactly that. The knot holds the narrative of her family, the knot is the glue that holds her together, the knot allows her the ability to dangle from the story, but never fall. The knot allows her to re-animate all that has happened with a distance that comes from time and emotional support.
As humans, our humanity towards one another, our perpetuation towards violence, our existence on this planet, are all explored in Mr. Kelly’s extraordinary script. You will laugh and you will gasp and you will sit in shock. That kind of journey can only come from great writing, acting and directing. Lyndsey Turner’s directing is a delicate sleight of hand. Nothing pushed nor forced, allowing words and performer the space to flow naturally. And Carey Mulligan is a treasure and gift to the theatre and to us.
Girls & Boys written by Dennis Kelly, directed by Lyndsey Turner
With: Carey Mulligan
Creative team: Es Devlin (set design), Jack Galloway (costume design), Luke Halls (video design), Oliver Fenwick (lighting design), David McSeveney (sound design), and Joseph Alford (movement).
Royal Court Theatre’s Production of Girls & Boys at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane, between MacDougal & 6th Avenue – one block south of W. 3rd Street)
Playing Through Sunday, July 22 Only
Running Time: 1 Hour and 45 minutes with no intermission