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Gillian Greer - Boy Parts Interview

Based on the critically acclaimed debut novel by Eliza Clark (Finalist in Women’s Prize for Fiction, Granta’s Best of Young British Novelist 2023), the pitch-black psychological thriller Boy Parts is launched at Soho Theatre for a six-week run this autumn. This incendiary, shocking and hilarious production has been adapted by award-winning writer Gillian Greer (Meat, Theatre503; Petals, Theatre Upstairs).

Irina takes explicit, compromising photos of average-looking men – watching, stalking from behind the lens. With the camera as a barrier, these boys are at the mercy of the shutter button, putty in her hands. When Irina’s erotic photographs give her a big break in a fashionable London gallery, this dark and captivating play asks how far one person will go to get the perfect shot as Irina begins to spiral self-destructively.

Boy Parts is a sinister exploration of sexuality and gender roles in the 21st century. Subverting desire and the female gaze, Boy Parts presents a chaotic, funny, and threatening female protagonist, as it explores the complexities of female sexuality, and power and control in the art world.

Ahead of the Soho Theatre run I caught how up with writer Gillian Green to discuss the show in more detail.

What first inspired you to want to adapt this stage version of Boy Parts?
I first listened to the audiobook of Boy Parts last summer, and by the end of the book I realised I was frozen to the spot, completely gripped by the story and this incredible character that Eliza has created. Soho Theatre has a rich history of solo work, and particularly narratives about ‘messy’ and ‘unlikeable’ women, and I felt that this book was on the absolute cutting edge of what it means to create complex, powerful, contemporary female characters. It felt so natural, like a match made in heaven that we would adapt the book for Soho. 

How did you approach adapting Eliza Clark’s novel?
It was immediately clear to me that the only way to tell this story was from Irina's perspective. The book plays with the reliability of Irina's narrative quite a bit, so this became a central focus of the adaptation - Irina's relationship to the audience, her ability to seduce and beguile them, to repel them and when she loses that power. The word 'control' has come up a lot.

There's also a line from quite late in the novel which became a bit of a guiding light for my interpretation, where Irina asks herself what she needs to do to be considered a threat, how far she needs to go to be taken seriously. At every stage of writing the adaptation that's a line I've returned to, it's a bit of a North Star for the show we're trying to create I think.

The piece explores a variety of themes including female sexuality and power and control in the arts world. How do you approach blending the topics when developing your script?
The novel honestly does all of this so brilliantly already, my main job has been to translate that for the stage version as clearly and accurately as possible. The book does a brilliant job of balancing Irina's power and agency with her inevitable marginalisation as a young woman in the arts, and I've tried to stay true to that - to not make her too clear cut a villain or a victim.

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing Boy Parts?
I am devoted to making work that encourages audience members to argue in the bar after the show. I'd love to see people come away with wildly different interpretations of Irina and her story.

What keeps you inspired?
I am very lucky that I get to work with brilliant artists every day for a living, and they are my biggest inspiration. Current inspirations include Eliza Clark obviously (I am having to ration her second novel Penance because it's so juicy), our director Sara Joyce, Miriam Battye, Katie Posner, Holly Robinson, Jon Brittain, Rhianna Ilube, Sam Ward; Sam Grabiner, Will Jackson, Karim Khan, Safaa Benson-Effiom, Lakesha Arie-Angelo, I could go on and on. My very talented friend and colleague Adam Brace passed away earlier this year and the desire to please his ghost with everything I make is also an incredibly effective inspiration.

Can you describe Boy Parts in 3 words?
Deadly but delicious!

Boy Parts runs at the Soho Theatre in London from 18th October until 25th November. Tickets are available from

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