Performance review: Vunderbar vis-à-vis between Vita and Virginia – The Post

Performance review: Vunderbar vis-à-vis between Vita and Virginia

Why Not Theatre has fashioned a riveting play that will leave you captivated

A female drama that’s pleasant to watch (photo: Pressefoto)
November 2nd, 2016 5:41 pm| by Kristina Liebute
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Prepare yourself to get carried away by memorable quotes and touching moments in ‘Vita & Virginia’, Eileen Atkins’ dramatisation of the real-life tale of Virginia Woolf’s forbidden love.

Remarkable revival
The enchanting English play was first introduced by Why Not Theatre to Copenhageners back in 2011. Based on the correspondence between the novelists Virginia Woolf (Sue Hansen-Styles) and Vita Sackville-West (Nathalie Johnston), the play became an instant sensation in the Danish media, as well as among internationals. And this is a revival with a bang.

“I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me,” said Virginia Woolf once. It is a notion the director of ‘Vita & Virginia’, Barry McKenna, was driven by when he brought the play back.

READ MORE: The real-life tale of Virginia Woolf’s forbidden love

The rebirth of ‘Vita & Virginia’ also marks the 75th anniversary of Woolf’s death. Suffering from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, the prominent English writer drowned herself by filling her overcoat’s pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home.

Tons of witty humour
But before her tragic ending, Woolf left her mark on the world as a literary genius, surrounded by other talented writers from the Bloomsbury Group, including Sackville-West, who became her lover.

It is truly enchanting to watch the joys and pains of their life stories unravel through the skilfully-crafted letters they exchanged following their first meeting in 1922, right up until Woolf’s suicide.

The staging of the play is simple: just a couple of chairs and minor decorations. But there is no need for more in a room occupied by witty humour, romantic sparks and notable lines.

Prepare to be dazzled
The gifted actresses dive into the depths of the text, as their relationship turns from being one of admiration to love, and then hatred and reconciliation. Prepare to be dazzled!

The talented Sue Hansen-Styles (as Virginia Woolf) and Nathalie Johnston (Vita Sackville-West) (photo: Pressefoto)
The talented Sue Hansen-Styles (left, as Virginia Woolf) and Nathalie Johnston (Vita Sackville-West) (photo: Pressefoto)

The play is not only about the dramatic affair between two married women, it also offers authentic insight into the daily live of intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s, and into the horror of war and the times that followed.

‘Vita & Virginia’ is not just about love, but also friendship, acceptance and tolerance. But, of course, you will need to see it for yourself.

When the two were travelling together, Virginia was concerned their face-to-face communication wouldn’t be the same as through their letters.

“I am worried we are going to find each other out,” she mused.

Don’t we all?

Vita & Virginia


★★★★★

ongoing, ends Nov 19, Mon-Fri 20:00, Sat 17:00; Teatret ved Sorte Hest, Vesterbrogade 150, Cph V; 180kr, whynottheatre.dk