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Shane, R. (2019). Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, adapted by Hal Coase, directed by Thomas Bailey, at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, London, October 2018. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 9(1):88-89.

(2019). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 9(1):88-89

Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, adapted by Hal Coase, directed by Thomas Bailey, at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, London, October 2018

Review by:
Ruth Shane

I went to see this play out of my interest in the centenary commemorations of two important phases in twentieth-century Britain: firstly, the end of the “Great War” and secondly, the Act of Parliament that gave women the right to vote. A play based on the work of the feminist writer, Virginia Woolf, set in London in 1925, seemed an interesting contribution to my thoughts.

When I first arrived, I wondered if the spare, brick-faced basement of the Arcola's Studio 2 would be an effective setting for a play set in the 1920s. (In fact, I wondered if the play itself would be of interest to the residents of Dalston.) But in the event, the feeling of being in a bunker or a cellar, where old structures were re-purposed while retaining their former resonances, seemed appropriate for the play. There is a quality to the sparsely staged performance that speaks to Woolf's original text; we are not carried away by dinner party chatter or by the clutter of “things”, and we are not offered the false comfort of answers, encounters, or other expected representations. I enjoyed the raising of anxiety that ensued, echoing the inescapability of our inner world concerns.

This stage adaption by Hal Coase of the novel, Mrs Dalloway, with a running time of one hour and forty minutes, needed to be a slightly different creature from Woolf's original novel. The programme tells me that sixteen actors originally performed this particular adaption in 2017. So in this five-handed performance we were, to some degree, seeing a further adaption.

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