first I thought a dramatised production of Virginia Woolf's feminist
polemic "A Room of One's Own" was an odd concept, like
"Ulysses On Ice" or "Sons and Lovers: The Musical".
Yet Clare Dalton's one-woman performance validly works back to the
origin of the piece. The essay is composed of two lectures given
at Newnham and Girton College in 1928 and discusses the role of
women in fiction. Dalton takes on the part of Woolf, addressing
the audience as if we were the young girls of the 20s, studying
at Cambridge colleges, though never - as was the decree of the age
- to obtain our degrees.
stage is sparse, a brown leather armchair, a table, a lectern, all
drawing our attention to the speaker: a mesmerising and accomplished
Ms. Dalton. She holds the audience's attention for 65 minutes without
interval and manages an excellent impression of the clipped, high-class
Woolfian tones we have come to expect from such performances as
Nicole Kidman's in "The Hours". However, unlike "The
Hours", we get to experience Woolf at her most lucid and eloquent,
playing with language, at times both elliptical and prosaic. The
language is wonderful and well served by aural experience. Dalton
also conveys the wit of Woolf; an aspect often neglected by those
eager to portray her as melancholic and relentlessly grim.
well interprets the passion with which Woolf spoke to her contemporary
women. "A Room of One's Own" explores woman's conflicting
role as fascinating inhabitant of literature and her real social
position: uneducated, undervalued, ignored. This topic and its dramatic
interpretation can still be seen as relevant today, still rousing
in tone, still poignant in praising those women who went before
Woolf. An excellent chance to experience a piece of literature in
a different and stimulating way.