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Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Friday, October 5, 2001

A Room of One's Own

The Studio , National Arts Centre, Ottawa. Tuesday, October 2 through Saturday, October 13, 2001.

This production of A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN is an import from the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's an adaptation by Patrick Garland of Virginia Woolfe's well-known essay of the same name, the basis of which is two lectures delivered to women students at Cambridge in 1928 on the subject of "Women and Fiction." Although the importance of personal and creative freedom as it relates to the creation of art cannot be denied, the language and ideas of this particular script seem dated, and therein lies a problem. Performed as a period piece, which this production seems to be, it strikes one as a lecture, and a rather dry one at that.

Kelli Fox's beautifully modulated voice is reminiscent of Woolfe's own, and her wonderful use of her hands is very striking. However, she gives a rather controlled performance. Having seen her in ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, I know she's capable of a much greater range. I can only surmise that it's director Micheline Chevrier who has asked Ms. Fox to keep the lid on the emotion.

I'm not sure what a free-form soundscape is, but Marc Desormeaux's music is quite lovely and very effective. Judith Bowden designed the elegant costume, as well as an interesting set that subtly suggests changes of locale. The lighting, designed by Elizabeth Asselstine, helps maintain visual interest, as well as contributing to changes of mood.

Director Micheline Chevrier has kept the material low key, which leads to a rather constricted performance. She allows us to glimpse the seething emotion underneath the brilliant mind only near the very end. I wanted Ms. Fox to let us feel the emotional intensity of Virginia Woolfe's cry from the heart, "There is no lock, no bolt, which you can set upon the freedom of my mind." It's emotion and humanity that keep Woolfe's ideas alive and relevant. We need to see more of the woman behind the mind; otherwise the words never quite get off the page.

On a scale of one to five, the Shaw Festival production of A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN at the National Arts Centre gets three and a half Royal Canadian Mounted Police. For North Country Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.


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