In Ireland, the eight amendment referendum didn’t just change the law around abortion; in Rachel Trezise’s Cotton Fingers, it inspired a teen to live her life differently. She finds her voice for herself and others.
Living on a Belfast council estate dreaming of getting out, 19-year-old Aoife (Amy Molloy) had never confronted the self-created judgement and shame she always carried. “Why was I so sorry all the time?” she asks.
Even unprotected sex with her boyfriend comes from tending to his feelings, not her own. After an unintended pregnancy and a secret trip to Wales for an abortion (as Northern Ireland still blocks free access) something in her shifts. She finds she’s worth fighting for.
Trezise’s story is both emotionally powerful and rich with poetic language and vivid character. The occasional character tangent is kept in check by Julia Thomas’ assured direction, which keeps us engaged and expresses Aoife’s emotional transformation via physical labour – having Molloy push, drag, and carry a bench of seats on stage to set each scene. Defensive and steely to start, Molloy softens and strengthens with Aoife’s growth.
A translucent brick wall, which changes texture and colour through lighting, and a reflective floor with a dusting of snow show the marks Aoife is making on the world even before she recognises them.