Virginia - La Mama Theatre

Virginia - La Mama Theatre


Posted 2023-02-18 by Mistress of Culture Vulturesfollow

Tue 14 Feb 2023 - Sun 26 Feb 2023

La Mama has a brilliant line-up of summer shows, so book now to avoid missing out. The La Mama summer season runs until the 2 April 2023 at both La Mama HQ theatre in Faraday Street and La Mama Courthouse in Drummond Street Carlton.

One not to miss is Virginia, a play written by Edna O'Brien about the famous writer Virginia Woolf who wrote A Room of One's Own, Mrs Dalloway and Orlando, amongst many others. Book your ticket now as this show ends on 26 February at La Mama HQ in Faraday Street, Carlton.

Directed and designed by Nicholas Opolski the play is set in Virginia's family home in England. Here we meet Virginia (Heather Lythe), her father (Marc Opitz) and her sister 'Nessa' (Beth Klein). Virginia's father is portrayed as a strong but silent man of Greek heritage. We do not meet her other siblings, mother, or half-brother Thomas Duckworth.

Virginia is portrayed as dreamy, floating and speaking in poetry and flowing prose, quoting directly from her own writings. She is also portrayed as fiercely intellectual, with moments of brutality in her words and exactness–stating her views with uncensored honesty, especially about the status of women, marriage, and relationships.

Heather Lythe is perfectly cast in the role of Virginia, articulating every word with precision and loaded with meaning. She graces the stage and embodies the many interesting aspects of Virginia's personality, executing her fragility with grace. Virginia wears the same dress throughout the 80-minute performance. This is an interesting design choice by Opolski –Virginia wasn't interested in her appearance (i.e. in contrast to Vita Sackville-West). Perhaps the ghost of Virginia is narrating her version of events.

Early in life, Virginia suffered grief and loss when her mother and brother die and later her father and a sister. It is unfortunate (but not surprising) that Virginia was known more for her 'madness' than her 'magnificence' while she was alive. She experienced long bouts of depression, malaise, disconnection, delusions and hears voices. For a few years, she is treated in a mental institution which she abhors.

Virginia attends Cambridge University where she meets Leonard Woolf, and the Bloomsbury Set – a bohemian collective of philosophers, artists, intellectuals, and writers who threw lots of parties and had an assortment of relationships. It was probably one of the few places LGBTIQA& #43 ; relationships were discussed or accepted in London at the time.

Eventually, Virginia and Leonard marry, but the mainstream publishing houses do not accept Virginia's work and she is stigmatized for her 'madness'. So Leonard and Virginia establish Hogart's Publishing House.

Leonard (Marc Optiz) is portrayed as the quintessential English gentleman. He sincerely loves and cares for Virginia and is her rock during difficult times. Virginia also loves him, but not in a sexual way. He turns a blind eye to her relationship with Vita Sackville-West (Beth Klein), an upper-class socialite and writer married to a closet homosexual husband. Leonard worries that the relationship with Vita may be too intense and undo Virginia's mental stability. However, the relationship inspires Virginia to write Orlando which becomes a bestseller and is even more relevant today. To know more about this relationship I highly recommend watching Vita and Virginia (2019) directed by Chanya Button, starring Gemma Arterton Elizabeth Debicki and Emerald Fennell.

It is no mistake La Mama programmed Virginia during Midsumma Festival , starting on Valentine's Day. The play really is about love and all the types of love from agape to eros. Edna O'Brien's writing is exquisite, and the performance moves well from moment to moment in Virginia's life. The stage is a simple set in the tiny La Mama HQ Theatre and this is fitting as the relationships in Virginia's life are intimate. Vita accuses Virginia of using people in her life as muses only, without any real depth of emotional connection. The play questions 'what is love' and the validity of different types of love expressed in a variety of arrangements, that would have been necessary to survive in a society based on class and heterosexual marriage.

Not to be missed.

Stay tuned for my reviews of Not All Dictators and Flesh Disease coming up at La Mama Summer.

!date 14/02/2023 -- 26/02/2023
183825 - 2023-06-16 02:16:21


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