Mrs Dalloway

Virginia Woolf’s novels are notoriously difficult to adapt for the stage. It is hard for plays to do justice to her stream-of-consciousness style while remaining compelling – and comprehensible – to the audience. Thankfully, Theatre Paradok’s contemporary adaptation of Mrs Dalloway largely succeeds in doing both.

One of the key merits of this production is its consistency: everything about it exudes a sense of thorough competence.

Rather than depict the private, spontaneous thoughts of characters as they arise, the play offers glimpses into their activities on social media while they move through the city and interact with one another. Characters are distracted by text messages and Tinder notifications, and kill time by scrolling through newsfeeds, videos and photos on Google Drive, all of which are projected onto a screen in the centre of the stage.

One of the key merits of this production is its consistency: everything about it exudes a sense of thorough competence. The actors deliver near impeccable performances and the well-timed pauses and brisk transitions between scenes ensure that everything moves like clockwork. Nuri Corser delivers a convincing performance as Mrs Dalloway, displaying just the right amount of poise and restraint as she glides across the room.

Mrs Dalloway does a good job at conveying the fragmented consciousness of our daily lives. However, the wave-like rhythm that characterises much of Woolf’s writing, helping it channel a distinctly female perspective, seems to be somewhat lost here. By transposing the private stream of consciousness idea onto the realm of virtual communication, the play remains removed from its characters and does not allow us to feel as intimately acquainted with them as one does when reading the book (though this could have well been the intention).

Woolf purists might raise an eyebrow or two at some of the artistic liberties taken with the original material. However, there is no denying that the show is a clever and elegantly crafted piece of work that raises some interesting questions about the influence of social media on our consciousness and the creative arts.

Reviews by Toh Wen Li

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The Blurb

What would a stranger think if they scrolled through your search history? What is the person opposite you doing on their phone instead of listening to you? Are you the same person, online and off? This contemporary take on the classic novel explores the private consciousness we stream through our phones and computers as we interact. As the characters talk, trail-off to check a text, and half-listen to each other, the audience is privilege to what they are distracted by: Facebook stalking, weird YouTube videos, choosing a filter, and the rest.