In a forty-five minute interpretation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper, students from Bangor University question the derivation of madness.
Whilst viewing a country house, two men find the journal of a writer whose physician husband has moved the family to the country in an attempt to cure her hysterical condition. She is confined to a room at the top of the house in which the walls are covered with yellow wallpaper. Though this confinement is intended to help her it catalyses her descent into psychosis, as she becomes obsessed with the patterned wallpaper. She wakes at night to study it, eventually seeing women trapped in the paper and believing herself to be one of them. Her story is narrated from her perspective, but at a later point in time, by two men who are unable to believe that nobody noticed how the supposed cure was worsening the woman’s condition.
The production is staged very well; the different eras of the play take place in the same location, so both are played out on the same stage at the same time. The acting is terrific in a play that explores depression alongside the product of repressed creativity. As the passionate writer hides her journal from her husband, who is predominantly interested in the effects of her anxiety on himself, the play includes a strong theme of feminism in the 19th century. It is a huge topic to fit into the runtime and the play ends suddenly, with a few moments of disbelief from the audience before the applause. Though it is a very enjoyable performance, it perhaps needed slightly longer to develop fully in order to stop the audience from being left at a loose end.