By Holli Harms
Like Halley’s bright shining Comet soaring through the night sky, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing soars across the stage at the Irish Rep. Based on the intensely courageous novel by Eimear McBride and magnificently adapted for the stage by Annie Ryan, this is an experience not to be missed. It is heartbreaking, it is humorous, it is truth and honesty, and the difficulties growing up in poverty and lies, and an ultimate form of acceptance. There is only one actor on the stage but she brings to life all those she knows, those full of good intentions, those full of anger, hate. We know what they look like, sound like. We recognize some from our own encounters in the world. A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing takes you on the journey of Girl played with spectacular grounded honesty and presence by the illuminating Jenn Murray. I inhaled and did not exhale for the next 70 minutes while Murray unfolded the beautiful poetry-prose of the novel, translating it into the language of theatre. A pin truly could have been heard dropping but for Murray’s voice carrying us from one part of life to the next, from home and hearth, from school to Hell. All overshadowed by the looming of Catholicism, the church with its way of twisting truth into lies, of demanding obedience, giving hope, and taking it away.
Nicola Murphy’s direction is sparse perfection. Nothing is wasted, nothing is over the top, nothing is not where it should be. It is a full, rich, and at times a horrifying experience but one I am so glad I went on.
The set is a womb of rock and light. Light creeping in through the layers on the walls, light creeping in but never fully formed. Our Girl living in the dark places of her heart.
This is one of those theatrical experiences not to be missed, where everything falls into place. And like Halley’s Comet, it is here for a brief moment and then gone with only the memory of the light and the heart-stopping encounter.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing based on the novel by Eimear McBride, adapted for the stage by Annie Ryan, directed by Nicola Murphy
With: Jenn Murphy
Production: Set Design by Chen-Wei Liao, Costume Design by Esther Arroyo, Lighting Design by Michael O’Connor, and Original Music and Sound Design is by Nathanael Brown. Michael Palmer serves as Production Stage Manager, with Michael Quadrino as Assistant Director.
*Note: This show is intended for mature audiences and depicts scenes of sexual violence.
Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission