This is a stage adaptation of the novella by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which was first published in 1892. It tells the tale of a young woman who is confined in an attic bedroom for the good of her health as she suffers from ‘temporary nervous depression’ and ‘a slight hysterical tendency’. Her husband, who is also her doctor, does not considers her condition serious, but orders her to have complete rest. He instructs her not to work or meet with friends, and to recuperate in the bedroom of their old rented house. The story tells of the woman’s gradual mental decline and eventual psychosis. The room becomes her world and the main focus of her attention is on the strange patterned wallpaper, which she starts off hating and eventually becomes consumed by.
The book is broken into a number of journal entries, and the play keeps the same form with a number of short scenes. The thought process of the narrator becomes more clouded and gripped by her own world as the piece nears its conclusion. The audience is broken into two halves, sitting on each side of the actor and her room, so we stare in on her, watching through the transparent sheets that hang to symbolize the walls and wallpaper of the room. The lighting is also impressive, and breaks up the journal entries and is used to symbolize the time of the day and the emotions of the narrator.
This is a one woman piece and the performance of Meave Fitzgerald is at the heart of it. Her descent into madness is haunting and delivered in an absorbing manner. Her wide-eyed and honest delivery of her thoughts and deepest emotions capture the audience and make this difficult role very believable.
Then This Theatre’s production of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is a revival of the 2011 Fringe Festival production, and runs until next Saturday (24th Nov) at the Project Arts Centre, Tickets are 12-16 euro.