Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf was a social commentary on issues such as homosexuality, social class and suicide. Mrs Dalloway by Theatre Paradok is a social commentary on homosexuality, social class, suicide and the multimedia world in which most people live their day-to-day lives. Unlike the original Mrs Dalloway, this version of Clarissa Dalloway, like so many of us, cannot go an hour without checking her mobile phone, her “apps” or her internet.
It is a great idea for a play. Unfortunately, much of the production falls below the high standards of the plot summary on the flyer. The opening sequence is supposed to represent how people are so busy in their everyday lives that anything and anyone that gets in the way is just interference, but the movement is clumsy, and rather than representing interference just interferes with the audience enjoyment.
The projector screen in the background is also a good idea, projecting images of what is on the mobile phones and the laptops, but it is difficult to marry these images with what is going on on stage, and so the timing is often mismatched. The actors spend much of their time glancing at the screen behind them, rather than focussing on their acting. And much of the acting needs more focus, with many actors unable to keep straight faces and looking out of their depth in their parts. All that is except Daniel Omnes, who gives a wonderfully authentic performance as Septimus Smith, a young man who has returned from war with mental health issues, and Amy King, who gives a comic performance as Lady Bruton. The other performers struggle to shine next to these two.
Some great ideas, some great talent, but they need more.