Creating successful theatre surrounding topics of female sexuality and consent in the age of #MeToo is no easy feat. The subject matter itself often becomes problematic when dealt with irresponsibly and is, at best, triggering when expectations are not met. However, UCD Dramsoc’s production of Boys and Girls created through the collaborative efforts of Soirse Burns, Eimear Griffin and the cast, hits all the right points with the respect and dignity the topic deserves.
One just had to walk into the theatre to see the incredible work by lighting designer, Ingmar Kviele and set designer, Jess Maher to see how much time and passion has been pumped into the piece. The pair’s design added to the performative skills of the actors, allowing for a seamless transportation into a different world. The sheer intimacy of the performance space allowed for the understanding of the piece that said so much despite the lack of spoken word.
“There was almost a sense of certainty among those familiar with Dramsoc that their partnership in creating this piece would be nothing less than a success”
The balance of movement and monologues elevated an awareness for topics of consent, female sexuality, and both male and female survivors of assault, among many others. Alongside this, audience members became key players in the creation of meaning in this piece of avant-garde theatre. There is a clear presence of Burns’ and Griffin’s research and knowledge on the subject matter throughout, which is to be expected given Burns’ experience with past productions such as last years B for Baby, combined with Griffin’s experience as an actor. There was almost a sense of certainty among those familiar with DramSoc that their partnership in creating this piece would be nothing less than a success.
From the moment the audience enters with the sweet smell of vanilla lacing the air of the theatre, Burns and Griffin have enraptured you with the performance space they’re created. There is a clear sense of sensitivity to the discussion of the issues surrounding consent, while raising the voices of male survivors equally through an effective movement-based piece between Robert Johnston and Moira Anne Bender, who has almost become known for her physically-driven roles.
From the beguiling physical storytelling to the heartbreaking monologues delivered by Griffin and fellow cast member Isabelle Geraghty, the cast had the audience hanging on every word and movement. It stands as a testimony to the hard work of the cast and crew in giving life to the testimonies and research Burns and Griffin had collected months before rehearsals. The subject matter and depiction where handled with such great integrity, that one almost forgets they are watching a student performance. There was a level of professionalism from all involved that has yet to be met on the DramSoc stage. One thing is for sure, this is a production even Pina Bausch would be proud of.