I was not ready for it. Completely unprepared for such a simple but unbelievable performance by Carey Mulligan. Rather than overwhelming complexity, it is the simplicity of this beautiful show that leaves one overwhelmed, emphasised by the cosy atmosphere of the Royal Court Theatre.
With a small stage, no props, and a simple set, Carey Mulligan takes us on a personal journey, told by a friend. Perhaps recognising how biased her opinion is, she provides details - memories that mattered to her and made her story unique. How lost she was in those early years of adulthood, how Southampton showed up on/in her way and how she told destiny to fuck off and went to Paris. Often, her easy speech brings out laughter in the audience.
Her story glides along, until she introduces us to her husband - the way they met, the way she had a complete disgust for the man. The simple and funny way of life of that man and how easily she, bit by bit, makes us fall in love with him too. How could we not? - that is the question.
The attraction of a normal and predictable way life shines over this couple as well: kids, a house, jobs. At the beginning, this ideal life story seems to represent something for us, just like it had for her - but as she goes on, we are compelled to wish it does not anymore.
She does not dwell on the major moments of her life, neither incidences of extreme sadness or joy. Much more relatable than that, they are the cherished moments that need no justification, and as the story follows its own way, it sets out the factors that bring her life to where she is now. In an impressively emotional performance, Carey Mulligan turns something that might have been a feel-good show into a much more insightful play about the most important aspects that rule our lives.
Sometimes, there are things we cannot control, things that do not go to plan, life is a mess, it hurts, but we can make it work. Situations will leave us baffled, torn apart, but people are brave and bravery can be seen in the simplest acts of someone’s life.
Girls and Boys is a simple show full of intention behind every sentence. Carey Mulligan begins with an ordinary story, where we find ourselves laughing at the most quotidian situations. However, she unexpectedly transforms the story in such a way that we almost cannot accept that the person starting the story is the same one that finishes it.
As Carey’s bright and conflicted husband brilliantly puts it, sex with a pretty girl without a soul is like wanking to a dress. So is watching a play that does not inspire reflection. Clearly, Girls and Boys was not the case.
Where? Royal Court When? Until 17 March How Much? From £12