It’s 2007 and 14-year-old Niamh O’Reilly has never been kissed. This reality has earned her the unenviable status of a “fridget,” one her friends are intent on helping her shed, no matter Niamh’s own thoughts on the matter. And tonight’s local disco is the perfect opportunity.
Frigid, from Dublin-based theatre company Bump & Grind, is performed largely by actor Rosa Bowden, punctuated by input from live DJ Ciarán Gallagher at opportune moments. Bowden puts in a first-class performance, impressively inhabiting each character and marrying accents and physicality to great comedic effect, while also packing a punch in more serious moments. It is Bowden’s Niamh who anchors the performance, her interior monologue letting the audience in on her true feelings about the night’s events and characters as the disco plays out.
Nostalgia here is perfectly-pitched with a well-curated soundtrack and just enough references to the likes of MSN Messenger and Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse to make audience members of a certain age cringe in recognition. This lends to the comedic beat of Frigid, which is consistently funny and relatable – but there is darkness, too, when issues of misogyny and consent arise. The pacing of this one-hour show doesn’t allow for their full impact to be fully explored, but they are well-realised and sensitively handled.
An unflinching exploration of early noughties girlhood in all its frivolous, mortifying, and sometimes heart-breaking glory, Frigid is an accomplished production brought to life in a skilful performance.