“An ordinary day underpinned by hidden woes, troubles and desires”
BY EMILY SHEWELL, IMAGES ELTON TOWNEND JONES
Elton Townend Jones’ stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s classic novel Mrs Dalloway perfectly encapsulates life in the interwar period: the parties, the dreams and the surfacing anxieties in the aftermath of the Great War.
It’s June 1923. The stage is set, a singular chaise longe, a room draped entirely in white. This minimalist blank canvas serves to ignite the audience’s imagination as you follow a day in the life of the upper-class Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares a party in Westminster.
Rebecca Vaughan embodies Clarissa but also brings multiple characters to light in this one-woman monologue performance. This role is technically demanding yet Rebecca’s phenomenal acting skills help her flit seamlessly between characters, something she should be commended for.
With the focus on Clarissa, this sole female, it echoes the company’s ethos of letting women’s voices take centre stage in this feminist response to the First World War.
Clarissa discusses Septimus Smith’s tribulations too, his diagnosis of shell-shock indicative of the mental trauma from warfare. Rebecca transforms herself into Septimus, alluding to his melancholy and agitated state perhaps stemming from a repressed homosexual desire.
The traditional storylines of masculine desire are further broken up by Clarissa’s fond memory of Sally, all adding to the prevailing current of repressed homosexual desires or tendencies.
This fascinating play really encourages you to ponder over how much is desire and how much is socially sanctioned expectations.
As someone who was unfamiliar with Woolf’s story, this production turns this famous literature into accessible, live performance. This adaptation from page to stage keeps the audience transfixed and shall continue to do so as Woolf’s imagined London lives on. If you go with an open mind, you can immerse yourself for 90 minutes into the roaring 20s too.
N.B This show has no interval, so I advise you grab a snack beforehand, for 90 minutes is a long time.
Dalloway runs until 26 August. For tickets, visit tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dalloway
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