Tonight's theatrical Norfolk and Norwich Festival adventure took in the stage adaptation (by Annie Ryan) of Eimear McBride's prize-hoovering novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. As with the book, it's a difficult to watch but impossible to look away masterpiece, a verbally instant and insistent barrage of emotion and experience. Guttural.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing follows the inner narrative of a girl from the womb to twenty, her relationship with her sick brother, and search for herself. It has attracted 5-star reviews from nearly everyone who has seen it, and is performed as a one-woman show by Aoife Duffin who is simply mesmeric. Hers is a performance to shape a career. Duffin holds the stage without much movement or action, and conjures characters with a slight inflection of the voice of posture. She is utterly convincing and untouchable on an raised up stage. Sometimes, so embodying the role, it feels as though she is a child playing make believe alone in her bedroom. How she can go through that visceral performance night after night and not be a gibbering wreck is anybodies guess.
And for the audience a difference from the book. Because with a book you can always put it down, but here together in a theatre it is relentless. There is nowhere nowhere to hide. It's Excoriating. I came out tense and wordless. All around was stunned silence and soft checking each other was okay after it all. The impact and power of those words and that body and voice were written all over our faces.
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is playing at Norwich Playhouse until Saturday 16th. Go and see it if you can. It is, it is, it is it