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April 2004
A Room Of One's Own - The Burton Taylor
Clare Dalton
Clare Dalton

Virginia Woolf's "A Room Of One's Own"

22 - 24 April

The Burton Taylor Theatre
Performaces 7:30pm
Saturday Matinee 3pm

 

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By Andrea MacDonald

At 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.

The 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.

Dalton 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.

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