Crying Woolf | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Crying Woolf 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Crying Woolf, Zebra Crossing Theatre. Adapting a work of fiction to the stage, especially a complete and satisfying read like Virginia Woolf's short story "The New Dress," is always a challenge. In her one-woman show, adapter and performer Alexandra Main makes a brave attempt at portraying the woman in Woolf's story, Catherine Waring, who's returned from a party at which she rather unsuccessfully debuted a yellow dress. But Woolf's short story is essentially a stream-of-consciousness examination of identity that can't be as thorough onstage as it is on the page. Main is a strong and able performer, and ironically many of her most interesting moments occur when she's not using the text but showing us her character through movement. The way she rips off her coat, butters her bread, and pours her tea gives us insight into Catherine's psyche. But Main's use of Woolf's text--whose setting she's changed to the American south of the recent past--ranges from the fairly impassioned to the stiff and labored.

Designer Tony Martin has created an intimate space for Catherine's diatribe, with the dress hanging on a sort of mannequin at all times. Lighting coordinator David Preis's design eerily changes the colors and patterns on the dress to match Catherine's mood, a device that's interesting at first but as the piece moves forward can be distracting. It seems this sort of spectacle is meant to fill a void in the stage version of "The New Dress," which on the page compels the reader to imagine the garment and experience Catherine's changing moods through words alone.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gabrielle S. Kaplan

Popular Stories