To The Lighthouse – Everyman Theatre – Review
Run – 25-27 Jun 2021 – Part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.
To the Lighthouse was written by Virginia Woolf in 1927. It’s viewed as one of her finest works and a classic of modernism. The novel has now been adapted for the stage by Irish playwright Marina Carr. This production was available to view online from the 25th to the 27th of June. It was a joint production by Hatch Theatre Company and the Everyman, in association with the Pavilion Theatre and the Cork Midsummer Festival. It’s quite a lavish affair with 12 cast members and some of the finest Irish stage actors including Derbhle Crotty, Declan Conlon, Olwen Fouéré, Nick Dunning and Aoife Duffin. Annabelle Comyn is the artistic director of Hatch Theatre Company and also serves as the director of this piece.
The play focuses on the lives of Mr Ramsay (Declan Conlon) and his beautiful wife (Derbhle Crotty), along with their eight children. We first meet the couple at their summer house in the Hebrides, on the Isle of Skye. From the house, they can see the Lighthouse, and their son James wants to visit it the next morning.
Another character in this sprawling work is Lily Briscoe (Aoife Duffin), a young artist that is attempting a portrait of Mrs Ramsay and James. The first act of the play ends with a dinner party where the ensemble gather together along with a visiting poet by the name of Augustus Carmichael (Olwen Fouéré). The play gives us an insight into the thoughts and aspirations of each of the characters, as they sit around the table awkwardly discussing their lives.
One of the problems with adapting any of Woolf’s works is that, much like Joyce, the reader is allowed inside the head of the protagonists, hearing the thoughts of the character. This can be difficult to portray on stage and even more so on screen. To achieve this, the actors are often not interacting with the other cast members but instead deliver the text in a dream-like state. The play can be difficult to follow at times, as we jump between the thoughts of the different characters but it is also a highly rewarding and complex tale. The camera is not an idle viewer of the events from the front of the stage, as it cuts between the characters and follows them around. While it is still a recording of a play, great thought has gone into each shot, similar to any film. At the end of this piece, my main thought was how exciting it would be to see this work live on stage. It can’t be too long before we’re afforded the chance to see exciting new work such as this once more.
Duration – 135 minutes