On stage, Mrs Dalloway says she will buy the flowers herself and so the play begins. There is only one woman on stage, and she gives voice to every character and to their deepest darkest thoughts. It is for this unique performance that Dalloway is perhaps one of the greatest adaptations of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.
Mrs Dalloway covers one day in one woman’s life: Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class housewife, prepares for the party she will host that evening and the arrival of her first lover Peter Walsh triggers old memories. Throughout the play, the audience explores the story of Clarissa’s life, her dreams and desires, as well as other character’s lives and wishes.
Dyad Productions have found a niche telling stories of real-life and fictional women. This time, they take a perfect approach on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Writer Elton Townend Jones certainly does an exceptional job of turning a stream-of-consciousness modernist novel into a 90-minute one-woman play. Some of the more important parts from the book have been considerably changed or shortened, such as the dream sequence of Lucrezia after her husband’s death, but the story does not lose its meaning or its smooth flow.
Rebecca Vaughan gives a powerful performance, playing not only Clarissa Dalloway, but also every other character in the play. One minute she is Dalloway, walking around “her London”; next minute, she is Septimus Warren-Smith, fidgeting and slowly going mad with shell-shock. Although a remarkable talent, her performance at the beginning does seem to be a little bit over-the-top. The exaggerations do not necessarily fit Woolf’s original description of the characters, but they do portray their hidden desires and mentalities in a novel and interesting way.
Dalloway is a whole new experience for Mrs Dalloway lovers, as it explores every character in a new manner. It is certainly easy to imagine Virginia Woolf herself watching and enjoying this play for all its insightful innovations on her original text.
Dalloway was on at Assembly Roxy – Upstairs (Venue 139)
Image: Hannah Bradley