Arts Reviews

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing @ NNT

Based on Eimear McBride’s debut novel and adapted for the stage by Annie Ryan, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is a truly harrowing play which director Amy Crighton and producer Josie Hayden did absolute justice. From the clever minimalistic set to the impressive acting of Kate O’Gorman, Nottingham New Theatre took the deeply affecting story of one girl’s life in religious, rural Ireland and created a thoroughly engaging piece of drama.  

“captured and maintained the audience’s attention for 100 minutes of unwavering talent”

First and foremost, a lot of praise has to go to Kate O’Gorman who captured and maintained the audience’s attention for 100 minutes of unwavering talent. As the only member of the cast, she took on a number of roles throughout the monologue, switching between genders and ages and attitudes almost flawlessly. Although I had to get my head around the constant switching, by the end of the play, O’Gorman was so convincing that I had forgotten about the lack of other actors as she pulled off each character and her stamina was just so impressive.

Crighton had clearly put a lot of thought into the directorial decisions she made as the 360° staging and O’Gorman’s interactions with the small space and audience created a very intimate setting which made the graphic and emotional moments even more affecting. It felt as though the set was shifting around her despite no changes being made, the play relying fairly heavily on the audience’s imagination and engagement which was not forced at all and easily evoked by O’Gorman’s acting skills.

“I could see the intense focus of these audience members and their emotional reactions”

The set itself was purely a mound of wood chips surrounded by tables and chairs for audience members who had seating within the set and with four hanging light bulbs above: this made it feel as though it was an immersive experience even though I was seated myself fairly far away. I could see the intense focus of these audience members and their emotional reactions (I spotted some not very dry eyes around the room) and the minimalistic set worked well as it became a forest, a lake and even a bed without detracting attention away from O’Gorman. The chippings were used cleverly with her throwing them around, clutching at them and lying in them and a lot of the action was made by her movements and physicality which were equally shocking and realistic.

“Fairly quiet and subtle  yet extremely effective”

Lighting designer Miguel Barrulas outdid himself as the lighting throughout the show not only signified the changes in setting but created the distinctive moods of the piece with a combination of spotlights, blue lighting and dimmed lighting using the lightbulbs on set. The sound effects, designed by Emma Barber, added to the emotionally wrought atmosphere as they were fairly quiet and subtle  yet extremely effective. O’Gorman didn’t need many special effects as her acting alone created the suffocating atmosphere of the play but these additions heightened her moving performance.

“When it ended, I had an odd sensation of not wanting to move”

O’Gorman’s ability to put you in a moment with her kept me transfixed for the entirety of the play and the silence in the room meant that I didn’t want to move a muscle lest I broke the tension or interrupted her performance. She aced the funny moments within the play but equally managed to give me goosebumps at times, as the graphic content and sensitive topics addressed alongside O’Gorman’s acting talent hit home. Crighton pulled it off and could not have had a more impressive actor taking the reigns.

When it ended, I had an odd sensation of not wanting to move yet also wanting to quickly get out of there. Definitely not one to see if you would like a laid-back and relaxing show, but for an intense and heart-wrenching performance that leaves you a little shaken, go and watch A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.


Katie Moncur  

Featured Image courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre Official Facebook Page.

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