• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Fringe 2023: Vita and Virginia (Abridged)

ByJemima Hawkins

Aug 16, 2023
cast of vita and virginia

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Virginia Woolf met fellow author Vita Sackville-West in the upper-class Bloomsbury scene of the 1920s. What followed was an infatuation which would span two decades, and inspire one of Woolf’s most famous works of literature: Orlando.

The performance abridges the 1992 play, perfectly capturing Woolf and Sackville-West’s intimate relationship through their preserved letters and diary entries. What started as friendship and developed into a deep devotion, is expertly explored in this 50-minute show. It touchingly captures the intertwining emotions of the authors, crafting tangible tension as they succumb to inherently subdued sexual desires that are never mentioned but cleverly insinuated.

Both actors were captivating, with poignant mentions of both husbands amid a trip away together highlighting the intensity and all-consuming nature of such a romance. The raw honesty and sensitivity of this love story was refreshing for a Fringe production, with a minimal set placing all focus on the stylish performances of the two women. The light humour of their deep friendship captured the audience who were then beautifully navigated through flirtation, romance, devotion and finally jealousy with, as you might expect, the play closing on the death of Woolf.

One striking stylistic choice was the casting of Ruth Cattell as an elderly, white-haired Virginia, given the untimely death of the author in her fifties. However, this arguably enhanced the ‘last chance’ aspect to the affair, with the suave confidence of Emma Francis as Vita creating the perfect blend of danger and frivolity between the pair.

This play is uniquely clever since it uses only the verbatim words of Woolf and Sackville-West, truly immersing the viewer within their cascading romance whilst bringing to light the mental health issues suffered by the author. Despite her confidence on the page, Vita and Virginia illuminates the vulnerability of Woolf as a woman in love with her husband but deeply devoted to another of the same sex.

Blending literature, love and loss, this performance is a rare insight into a troubled mind.

Vita and Virginia (Abridged) is on at theSpace @ Niddry St.Studio at 9:20pm. Tickets are available here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Vita%20and%20Virginia%20(Abridged)%22.

Image provided to The Student as press material.