Event review: Vita and Virginia

The Iambic Arts Theatre is a little gem hidden away in the centre of Brighton’s North Laines. Bringing the public a selection of high quality plays, poetry and music events under the guidance of Artistic Director Emma D’Arcy, this month the theatre hosted Vita and Virginia: A love relationships in two acts, directed by Alison Grant.

Dramatized by actress and playwright Eileen Atkins, the show was originally produced by The Players Collective in Lewes in 2011 and, not surprisingly, it was performed to critical acclaim.

I knew that I was going to love the play even before the two actresses - Valerie Dent in the role of Virginia Woolf and Tamar K. Karpas in the role of Vita Sackville-West - recited their first lines. The attention to detail that was evident from the stage setting and the costumes could only be a sign of good things to come!

And so it was: from the very first words used by Tamar/Vita to describe her first impressions about Valerie/Virginia to their joint recital of a passage from Orlando at the end of the play, the audience was captured and taken on a journey made of witty remarks, joy, pain and inspiring conversations.

The two 45-minute-long acts explored the blossoming of the intimate correspondence and relationship between Vita and Virginia and - through their performance - the two actresses knocked down the four walls of the Iambic Arts Theatre and took the spectators from the Sussex countryside to Persia in a whirlwind of social events, intellectual musings and the writing of many famous works.

The dialogues were created using extracts from the letters and diaries of these two great women and they succeeded in cleverly portraying their love affair, both physical and literary, in such a delightful way that I wish the script was available in book form.

As Vita Sackville-West might say, I liked this play “a fabulous lot”!


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