Heather Alexander lit up the stage as she portrayed one of the most fearless female writers in history - Virginia Woolf. Room explored, via the use of inner thought during a lecture on Women and Literature to a group of women wanting to take the leap of faith into writing, as well as live musings to support her arguments. Based on the novel A Room of One's Own, as well as experiences Woolf had in reality, she passionately challenged the perceptions of women being poorer and less intelligent than men who were wealthy and had more experience when it came to a creative life.
Room had all the right ingredients
Alexander embraced the character of Woolf with such dexterity that her observational explorations of the injustice that women suffered through history became alive with enough life experience to challenge even the most egotistical of men. As she took us on her own journey, with putting the lecture together, observing how women were treated as people (including domestic abuse), it becomes clear that all the work and research that has gone into achieving a character as formidable as Woolf has paid off. The emotional journey has enough ups and downs to keep us engaged as she compares her own to current writers of her time, as well as classics such as Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Jane Austen and the lady who began it all - Aphra Behn.
Some of the flashbacks she had as she came away from the lecture to paint the scenes for the students used recorded voice-overs as a way to highlight some of her inner dialogue. It did take a while to grasp this concept, as to begin with it didn't seem clear whether the lecture was continuing, but in voice-over. But as things progress, it becomes clear.
What was particularly intriguing about Alexander's performance was the way she used stillness as a way of drawing the audience in during some moments in the play. It was lovely to see stillness being elicited to draw our bated breath, waiting for what she'd say next. At times it seemed like a power play so that Woolf could indicate without saying that she deserved to be listened to. It reminds us that whilst some plays need pace and energy, here the silence balanced out her more energetic moments, making her performance more rooted and engaging.
Room had all the right ingredients when it came to portraying this strong feminist and left us wanting more.