Objectively this is a wonderful marriage of text, performance and design that confronts us with the bleak reality of depression.
Aoife Duffin is a tiny figure on the vast Traverse 1 stage, enveloped in darkness with only a single pool of light that serves to suggest everything from a womb as the Girl remembers her infancy, before turning into a void for her subconscious and then the sea in which she drowns, lost to the world. In this abyss Ryan’s text comes into its own, as Duffin demonstrates the musical rhythm to the Girl’s stream-of-consciousness as ideas are left unfinished, memories resurface and she captivatingly evokes a wide range of characters with little more than a slight change in tone or posture.
There’s no denying that Duffin delivers a powerhouse performance, but some aspects of the production left me feeling cold. The Girl describes everything from sex and kissing to drowning in such an alien way that it may be possible to empathise but it’s difficult for the audience to truly understand what is going through her mind. The addition of the proscenium arch reflects this, giving us the feeling of watching the Girl from a distance; as she drowns, she seems like an exhibit in some alien aquarium rather than an actual person that we can relate to, and the effect is utterly hypnotic yet disconcerting.
Objectively this is a wonderful marriage of text, performance and design that confronts us with the bleak reality of depression, but the alienating techniques employed in the production means that it’s easy to appreciate Duffin’s virtuoso performance but hard to be swept away with emotion. Considering, though, the context of a show about suicidal depression and loss of identity, this could actually be viewed as a success.