Monday, March 21, 2011


Ellen Lauren seems at first an odd choice to play Virginia Woolf. She is tall and strong, with large hands and a deep, impressive voice quite different from Woolf's flutey, fruity tones. It is hard to imagine her with Woolf's vulnerability. But Room, directed by Anne Bogart, does not aim to present a biographical depiction of Woolf. Instead, through movement (not quite dance, yet not quite not dance) and Woolf's own words (adapted by Jocelyn Clarke), it presents an emotional portrait of a writer in desperate need of, in Bogart's words, "the room to move, the room to breathe, the room to imagine; emotional room, creative room." Presented as a speech to a female audience, the show also spends time in the intense maelstrom of Woolf's mind, focusing on the act of creation and on being a writer who is a woman . Ellen Lauren's performance is both an acting triumph and an athletic triumph--she does entire speeches in positions that might challenge a yoga expert, never losing sight of the meanings and feelings of the words. Bogart's direction and the design aspects are simple yet evocative. The stage is lined on three sides by large panels of linen, with a single chair as the only furniture. A small window floats high above the stage, sometimes looking like the window of a jail cell, sometimes appearing warmer and more inviting. Where design elements often supplement or support performance, the excellent soundscape by Darron L. West and lighting by Christopher Akerlind are part of the performance.

(Press ticket, fourth row on the aisle.)

No comments: