Theatre Review by Lisa Romeo

What: A Room of One’s Own
Where: La Mama Courthouse
When: April 28th to May 8th
Written by Virginia Woolf
Directed by Peta Hanrahan
Performed by Anna Kennedy, Carolyn Bock, Marissa O’Reilly, Jackson Trickett
Sound Design by David Thomson
Lighting Design by Peta Hanrahan
Image by Frith Kennedy

A Room of One’s Own is a new play by Sentient Theatre and is indeed a celebration of the brilliant English writer Virginia Woolf. Since her first novel in 1915 to her tragic death in 1941 she has been attributed for being an innovative thinker and experimental writer, a unique and intellectual artist of her generation. Her work continues to inspire today and will do for future generations.

Peta Hanrahan’s directing and translation to the stage of A Room of One’s Own is precision. It brings a classic piece of literature (it was once a series of essays and lectures), to a present-day audience without attempting to modernise the language, in fact it so closely holds true and complete its original beauty.

The magnificence of Woolf’s stories and essays are undeniable, their literary value and historical content will always be important. When A Room Of One’s Own was first published in 1929 the focus on feminism greatly provoked it’s readers and just as much, the issue still continues to trigger a spark of unsettlement, of unfinished business in the 21st Century. The English dictionary meaning of ‘feminism’ is ‘the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men’. This simple meaning stimulates and incites the need for further debate and discussion, still so relevant today as it was to Woolf 87 years ago.

These undoubtedly were the thoughts that must have inspired Hanrahan and Sentient Theatre to bring the literature to the forefront again, transforming it into a story with new life and freshness. The four performers are said to ‘symbolise the four corners of Woolf’s mind, in conversation with itself’. Of the four one was a male, I am still pondering what the significance of this is, maybe the irony that Woolf’s corners of her mind could be that of a male or female and subconsciously all minds are alike regardless of ones sex. My interpretation alone!

The accuracy in the narrative is to be applauded and the acting so well translates the meaning of the words, I found it very powerful and uplifting. I could have been in a room full of intellectuals in passionate and heated discussion, the type of talk that could result in a radical change to the fabric of our society.

The arena style staging integrated the audience effectively, this, together with the vivacious performers reciting the story so boldly, I craved to join in on the conversation. The voice of Woolf was embraced with every spoken sentence by each of the performers and with the intense topic the humour of Woolf also shone through beautifully.

A Room of One’s Own is a mix of the artistry of our new generation of theatre makers combined with the wise and timeless work of a past genius. In this collaboration some questions are unchanged between centuries, we are still in pursuit of a just and equal existence, the debate of feminism is alive and continuing. I was immersed by this play; every aspect was of the highest quality.

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