Whether familiar or not with Woolf’s 1928 Modernist novel Mrs Dalloway, this adaptation will not fail to delight.
The Great War is over and the socialite Clarissa prepares a party, shrilly reminding guests to “remember my party tonight!” Her life intertwines with fifteen other Londoners, including Septimus, who has recently been diagnosed with shell shock.
The original stream of consciousness text works incredibly well with one person on stage, and Vaughan gives a magnificent performance. She drifts impeccably between characters, each with a personalised voice, posture and aura.
Clarissa, who “knows nothing but her manner”, is a fantastic concoction of the superficial busy-body neighbour and the insightfully perceptive – she is after all within every person, place and moment. Clarissa is young but feels aged and her only gift is of knowing people by the instant. This paradoxical sense of a short time simultaneously saturated with lengthiness is characteristic of Modernism and works very convincingly in this production.
A completely white stage with a single sofa provides a stark contrast to Clarissa’s vivid and tireless thoughts, but also as a convenient blank slate for the audience to project their imagination, and to insert it into the spaces created by Vaughan’s terrific acting.
The sound effects, including echoing, work well – as does the lighting, especially when Septimus is by the sea. Highly recommend for superb acting and a retelling of one of last century’s most important writers.