Theatre Review: NNT’s ‘A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing’

On Friday night, we had the pleasure of watching the Nottingham New Theatre’s first in-house production of the academic year and, having heard good things of the script itself before, I was curious to see what this production would do with the text. Annie Ryan’s play, an adaptation of the 2014 novel, explores ideas of family, loss and abuse. Through a 100-minute monologue, we follow a young woman as she experiences the traumas of her past that come to shape the ‘half-formed thing’ she is.

The most striking thing upon entering the theatre was its use of space. Audience members were mostly seated in the round with some in-set on the stage, effectively bridging the gap between the action and our own viewing experience and making the more emotionally-charged scenes more impactful. The pairing of rubber debris scattered on the floor with the girl’s grey costuming added to the fragmented script. Such monochrome visuals held the perfect balance between hinting at the bleakness of the girl’s life and being a visual representation of her world crumbling around her. O’Gorman’s performance was, quite simply, stunning. She approached several difficult topics with courage and high energy throughout. There was no doubt that serious work had gone into considering the psychology of the character and how best to approach each moment of trauma.

My only complaints are with regards to some moments of delivery. Admittedly, the role is both physically and emotionally demanding, especially with the lack of momentary relief from any other actors. However, it was on a couple of occasions where I felt that the fatigue showed. Sometimes, it was difficult to differentiate between the different characters being portrayed, perhaps partly because the scene was moving too quickly for me but also because I felt there sometimes lacked a big enough shift in O’Gorman’s physicality to mark the changes between characters. I also didn’t enjoy the echo effects used in one particular moment of abuse. It meant that the lines, already delivered to the floor as her suffering was physically depicted (which was admittedly moving to watch), were further muffled and distorted, leading me to miss a lot of what was said. Though this may have been somewhat intentional, I felt it took away from the emotion of the scene.

 

Overall, I thought Amy Crighton (Director) did a beautiful job to interpret a challenging text. Although not my favourite script, I loved this interpretation and feel that the hard work that went into it really paid off. I give this production 4 out of 5 stars!

 

By Georgina Pittman

All Images by George Westaway