Seeing is very important in Sarah Richardson’s GirlPlay. The play opens with a cry of "Look at me" by the protagonist, Lucy, who later, when trying to make a connection, greets a potential lover with the comment "I see you". Wearing revealing garments from a sex shop, Lucy feels she is seeing herself for the first time and, after a tragedy, she offers comfort repeating the phrase, "I see you". So, seeing is very important, which is ironic as GirlPlay is presented as an audio play.
GirlPlay details Lucy’s sexual development from a confused seven-year-old whose sexual awakening prompts her to bash naked Barbie dolls together, through a teenager discovering the pleasures of masturbation, an anxious virgin making a clumsy pass at a man she considers to be out of her league, trying to spice up a relationship that has become routine and coping with a tragedy.
Three actors—Martha Dunlea, Rachel O’Connell and author Richardson—play Lucy. They do not play different aspects or ages of the character but rather their voices, working together or overlapping, add urgency to Lucy’s discovery of sexual pleasures or serve as a wry commentary on her occasional fumbling or clumsy behaviour.
Sarah Richardson does not use a uniform style of presentation. The opening sequence is close to stream of consciousness and, as the actors have Irish accents and they are being very frank in discussing sex in some detail, it brings to mind Molly Bloom's soliloquy from Joyce's Ulysses. Later sections have a rhythmic beat with lines rhyming (middle class / tight ass) while Lucy’s seductive come-on to a man she fancies is achingly romantic. By contrast, her visit to a sex shop could have been taken from a comedian’s stand-up routine ("Now I know I’m not in M&S" gasps Lucy surveying the goods on offer).
GirlPlay is undeniably an erotic celebration of sex, yet the overall atmosphere is sensual and warm rather than salacious. It is an ‘adult’ play not in terms of the spicy subject matter but rather the mature handling of the themes which brings a reflective, thoughtful tone to the play. This is the afterglow of sex rather than the act itself. It is a play that demands to be seen—sorry, heard.
Reviewer: David Cunningham