The Review: Antonio Says: Audible’s Girls and Boys
It has been days since I witnessed the incredible performance of Carey Mulligan (Broadway/West End’s Skylight, Virgil Williams’ film, Mudbound) in Audible’s presentation of The Royal Court Theatre’s production of Girls and Boys by Dennis Kelly (The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas) and I am still struggling with my thoughts and feelings that were ignited by this complex play. While watching, I was immediately seduced by Carey’s charming, intelligent, witty, and ultimately heartbreaking portrayal of Woman. She has such a strong focus balanced with an equally delicious playfulness which kept me so wrapped up in the present moment of her story, I was completely surprised where this journey lead us. She slowly reveals layer after layer of this character like an expert sculptor working with marble. Her sequence is so specific and she finds every opportunity to infuse humor and joy in her confessions about love, relationships, marriage, careers, and children. Directed with a beautiful subtlety and patience by Lyndsey Turner (West End/RCT’s Contractions), it was electrifying when the story shifts and we are shaken with the truth of Girls and Boys; depression, jealousy, divorce and family annihilation.
This woman’s life unfolds through monologues to the audience and scenes of touching, challenging or ordinary moments with her children, Leanne and Danny, where Carey spectacularly pantomimes taking care of her two small children. Great work, Movement Director, Joseph Alford (ROH’s Lessons in Love and Violence). The stage transitions between the monologues, done against a shallow backdrop, as if we are seeing a stand-up do a set, and the monochromatic home where her children live in her memory. I loved the touches of color added with props in each scene with her children which illuminated the nature of memory, thanks to the stunning Scenic Design by Es Devlin (Roundabout’s Machinal) and amazing Lighting Design by Oliver Fenwick (National’s The Great Wave).
The play is investigating violence, and particularly, how common it is for men to inflict violence on others. It is said that 95% of people who commit the act of family annihilation are men, so it follows that victims are predominately wives and children. It is already provocative that we only receive the Woman’s side of the story, where most modern-day events focus on the motives of the perpetrator. Only days after seeing and processing this play did I realize the power. Woman is teaching a master class on healing and forgiveness. It is extremely challenging to hear her tell the story in every small detail and at the beginning, she seems more concerned with the audience’s comfort than her own. But she has no choice but to keep the memories of her children alive, but as she continues to go through these memories, she is slowing surgically removing her ex-husband from the life of her children. This is how we not only survive trauma but also move forward to be able to love again. Never forgetting, she reminds us, but some are able to love again.