Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Vita Sackville West and Virginia Woolf corresponded over a long time with them falling into a relationship which has survived through the letters they wrote to each other. Here, Eileen Atkins has taken those letter and formed a play which allows each character and literary titan to express their feelings, show their affection and love for each other, and their husbands! This is a deft portrayal of how two of the most significant literary female figures of our times have managed to remain relevant and vulnerable to our ears and eyes.
This was an astonishing piece of theatre. I saw this on the opening night and was reminded at the end this was their opening night. Given that this is an amateur production, I have to say that I was beyond impressed by the standard of acting. It was exemplary, for amateurs, and though there were a few slips in terms of tonal and voice work, it was still enthralling and engaging from beginning to end.
Given the verbal chess game that was being played out in front of us, the two chairs and their movements at various times seemed to be lost between scenes – some of the moves seemed to be for the sake of doing something. I wondered if directorially that chess game could be paralleled physically, however it was a minor point.
Everything was able to be seen and whilst on a couple of occasions there were crosses within the stage and within the thrust staging that were difficult to fathom or see, it was competently done and managed with some degree of skill.
Scene changes were marked by lighting rather than any wholesale change but the most remarkable was still the acting.
Having seen the hoodies and jumpers in the streets worn with pride for NKP, I thought it must be an amateur show, as they were all a little year or two old for Youth Theatre! Here there was a respect for the profession and a care which was all about how they wished to show they had worked hard to provide the platform upon which they were performing.
I loved this wee gem. The story itself drew me towards it but knowing that it might be from an enthusiastic bunch made me cautious on one hand but intrigued much more on the other.
It hits the right theatrical notes throughout, and the challenge is not to rest on any laurels but to think about how it can be improved as some of the exchanges between characters find a better means of settling into each other, how conversation between each of them becomes slightly slicker and overall, how the performances develop and show that the craft on display is no fluke.