What do abortions, one-liners, and a goldfish have in common? Hugh Travers’s The Big Girl offers no shortage of analogies & juxtaposition whilst dealing with a subject matter that remains unrivalled in its ability to polarise Irish society.
Based loosely on Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy Antigone, our protagonist Anna is pregnant under suspicious circumstances, and is quickly offered a ‘weekend shopping trip to the UK’ by her uncle, a powerful TD. Instead, she takes to comedy as a defence mechanism, appearing at open mic nights to crack cheesy one-liners and abortion jokes half comedic, half shield against her own grim reality.
Now before we throw our moral compasses in regarding the subject matter, one has to simply appreciate the sheer fun and intelligence behind this production; by contrasting two extremes of light comedy and dark moral narrative, Travers allows us to confront our own political and moral insecurities, whilst giving us enough comedic punctuation that we can still engage with the characters & story on an individual level. They are flawed, ultimately self-destructive people, and their reactions and motivations highlight just how ambiguous a subject matter like abortion truly is, and why it makes great theatre!
Let me underline that this is a play reading, a rehearsal not without its hiccups, with the jokes occasionally coming too often and too flat, with pacing and comedic timing being the key drawback from the performance. And yet there is a unique charm to the raw reading, with actors having to fluctuate between distraught passion and light comedy on the flick of a script page. The opening night of this production will be one to mark on your calendar, as this is theatre at its core!
The Big Girl is written by Hugh Travers and directed by Maeve Stone, and was shown at The New Theatre on Feb 26th