Which direction we take ourselves in and which direction life takes us is the basis for Dennis Kelly’s shocking new play Girls & Boys starring, in a triumphant solo performance, the radiant Carey Mulligan.
The play opens with Ms. Mulligan’s Woman explaining how she met her future husband - a meeting with hilarity, assumptions and expectations that will all, by the end of the play, spiral out of control and shatter.
In Italy, Woman has just encountered a man while waiting for her flight. Her first impression of him is nothing remarkable and yet his subsequent encounter with two models changes her perception of him and ultimately her life’s trajectory.
They fall in love, change careers, find success, lose success, have children and… and… the unexpectedness of life happens. We have one idea of ourselves and how our lives will play out, but then, as we all know, life happens. We row our boats as fast as possible to get to the other bank, but we do not consider the tides, the whirlpools, the dead water that will move us with or without our permission.
There is a saying, “When you come to the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Ms. Mulligan’s Woman does exactly that. The knot holds the narrative of her family, the knot is the glue that holds her together, the knot allows her the ability to dangle from the story, but never fall. The knot allows her to re-animate all that has happened with a distance that comes from time and emotional support.
As humans, our humanity towards one another, our perpetuation towards violence, our existence on this planet, are all explored in Mr. Kelly’s extraordinary script. You will laugh and you will gasp and you will sit in shock. That kind of journey can only come from great writing, acting and directing. Lyndsey Turner’s directing is a delicate sleight of hand. Nothing pushed nor forced, allowing words and performer the space to flow naturally. And Carey Mulligan is a treasure and gift to the theatre and to us.
(Photo by Marc Brenner)
What the popular press says...
"The woman with the raw, luminous face has a story she wants to tell you. No, that’s not quite right. It’s a story she has to tell you, though the hard urgency of her narrative won’t be obvious at first. It is obvious she’ll deploy all the tools at her command — charm, aggression, the illusion of immediate intimacy — to keep your attention. Because this woman is portrayed with unswerving focus by Carey Mulligan, one of the most compelling stage actresses of her generation, there is never any question of her not succeeding in this mission. For the more than 100 uninterrupted minutes that make up Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys, in which Ms. Mulligan is the entire cast, you are unconditionally hers."
Ben Brantley for New York Times
"Girls & Boys is more absorbing in retrospect, after we’ve learned for sure whether the kids are real or if they ever existed. It’s a good thing that Kelly is a man, because Girls & Boys is one of the most anti-male plays out there. Kelly, to his credit, makes a good argument."
Robert Hofler for The Wrap
"New York City offers plenty of excellent acting courses, but there is no finer master class currently available than the one being presented eight times a week at the Minetta Lane Theatre. It's there that Carey Mulligan delivers an unforgettable performance in Dennis Kelly's one-person play Girls & Boys. For anyone interested in the art of stage acting, attendance is mandatory."
Frank Scheck for Hollywood Reporter
External links to full reviews from popular press...