Life and a Lover

By Natalie Meisner


by Jane Penistan

Life and a Lover examines the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Natalie Meisner, MFA candidate in Creative Writing, has written a challenging play about these two extraordinary women. This is not a biographical exposition, but rather an exploration of what might have happened. By bringing to life Orlando, of Woolf's novel, a visible go-between is established between Virginia and Vita.

With the introduction of Lady Edith Malgrave, Lady Patricia Compton and Clive Bell, Woolf's brother-in-law, the author provides the social milieu of the play. This is an ambitious work for students and Natalie Meisner needs to shorten some overlong scenes.

The multiple set, designed by Alison Green, is pleasing to the eye and in keeping with the era. The use of projected slides onto the picture frame backcloth is particularly effective. The director, Kate Weiss, makes good use of the well placed, multi level, sections of the stage. Kathie Kibble's costumes transform the actors into fashion models of the 1920s and are most attractive in their colour and style. She demonstrates Virginia Woolf's disinterest in current dress trends, but does not make her clothes dowdy. Rather, she manages to make the famous long cardigans look comfortable and her dresses are subdued rather than outre. The visual aspect of this production is one for congratulation.

Luisa Jojic portrays the intellectual Virginia Woolf and Trina McClure's Vita Sackville West contains force of personality and humour. She does not overplay this role. Christine Berg (Orlando) is suitably gauche in her earlier scenes and grows in maturity with the part. As the only man in the cast, Bryan Kyle Johnston as Clive Bell, stands out, as a contemporary cultured gentleman. Lady Edith Malgrove (Katherine McCulloch) and Lady Patricia Compton (Ivone Fonseca) provide humourous comment on the two principals, but remain contrasting characters who behave in the socially acceptable way of ladies of their day.

Although the pace of the production flags sometimes, the young cast sustains this play well.

Life and a Lover at The Frederic Wood Theatre at U.B.C. March 8-18, 2000, at 7.30.p.m. Tickets available at the Frederic Wood box office in person or by calling 822-2678. Preview $6 Wed Mar 17, Mon. to Sat. regular $16 and student/senior $10. Groups 10 or more $2 of regular or student/senior price.