Venue: Assembly Roxy
Virginia Woolf’s 1925 literary classic, Mrs Dalloway, is transformed into a one-woman show starring Rebecca Vaughn. This solo show is mounted by Dyad Productions and written and directed by Elton Townend Jones. Vaughn’s performance captures the themes of post-war limbo and disillusionment from Woolf’s text with great skill, yet this production is a little too stylistically sparse.
It’s 1923 and the war is over, Clarissa Dalloway prepares to host a party in Westminster, whilst Septimus Smith battles with shellshock. These narratives intertwine with fifteen others to provide a snapshot of post-war London.
Staged in the Assembly Roxy venue, the stage is set with white paper flooring and a chaise lounge. The staging is simple, leaving Vaughn’s complex performance to command our attention. We see Clarissa recount her relationships and regrets as she prepares for the party – the typical bourgeois woman, self conscious about her role in upper class society. Capturing Dalloway as a woman of great joie de vivre, Vaughn impressively explores the undertones of regret and worry in Clarissa – from mentions of her unfulfilled queer sexuality to keeping up with the expectations of the class system.
Yet it is Vaughn’s turn as Septimus that is the beating heart of Dalloway. The actress gives it her all as she explores the former soldier’s failure to slot back into mainstream society after The Great War – from his failure to be the husband he should to his inability to walk through a park without tremendous trauma. As the narrative tension mounts, Townend Jones impressive blends the narratives of Septimus and Clarissa for impressive emotive results, channelled through Vaughn’s rich performance. This powerful dramatic crescendo in Dalloway’s finale perfectly encapsulates the themes of post-war disillusionment found in Woolf’s novel.
Not all of these fifteen other characters maintain the same interest as Septimus and Clarissa, and with staging minimalist, Dalloway may not always engage as much as it should for the full ninety minute runtime.
Dalloway is nonetheless an impressive adaptation of Woolf’s seminal novel, that shines thanks to Rebecca Vaughn’s ambitious performance.