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Published July 23, 2019

The concept of adapting A Room of One’s Own to the stage is a fascinating one. How does one adapt an essay into the form a play? And how is it done in a way that will captivate the audience? It’s safe to say that both the director and adapter of A Room of One’s Own, Peta Hanrahan, has perfected the concept in this particular adaptation at fortyfivedownstairs.

Descending the seemingly never-ending and creaking staircase from Flinders Lane into the venue is a daunting experience, and you are left wondering when exactly the destination will come into sight. The actual performance space is lovely: the small bar and waiting area is understandably dwarfed by the expansive ‘stage’, whose wooden flooring, high ceilings and (very nice aesthetically, but fake) large windows somehow create an atmosphere that is both soothing and cosy.

The performance itself is captivating. Four actors roaming about the stage and discussing what is essentially a long essay isn’t exactly a pitch that many would think Hanrahan would have success with. However, what director/ adaptor has compiled is practically the exact opposite of a dry essay reading. The words of Virginia Woolf will always hold a relevance no matter the generation – and a Room of One’s Own especially so.

The performance follows the same discussions that happen within the book – the idea of women within fiction – and more specifically, the lack of women in the literary world throughout the years. While the essay itself is a fantastic read, and this author cannot recommend it enough, there is something special about seeing a favourite piece of writing come to life before your eyes in a medium that is accessible to anyone.

Anna Kennedy, Anthea Davis, Marissa O’Reilly and Jackson Trickett must be praised for their performances. Their strides across the stage and the confidence in which they speak their words draw the audience into an almost conversation, allowing them to be a silent spectator in the discussion pouring out in front of them. There are a few moments where lines are stumbled or forgotten – but all are quick to cover up and carry on.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is a must see for any that appreciate the work’s of Woolf. This is a brilliantly done adaptation that pays tribute to the source.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is showing at fortyfivedownstairs from 17th July to the 28th July. Tickets can be purchased here.

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