By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
From left, Holly Griffith, Ryan Parker Knox, Cynthia Meier, Connor Foster, Kathryn Kellner Brown and Patty Gallagher
Set aside all of your doubts. Cynthia Meier's adaptation to the stage of seven stories by Virginia Woolf is a richly sensual experience like no other the Rogue Theatre has produced.
If all you know about Virginia Woolf is the correct spelling of her name and that she is mentioned in the title of that famous play by Edward Albee, that is enough.
If you are a reader fond of Woolf and respect her place in 20th century literature, as well as her influence on today's female writers, you will be looking around for the replay button during curtain calls. Seeing this show just one time will not be enough.
“The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Concert of Seven Stories by Virginia Woolf” is a wonderland of emotional experiences capped by the realization of just how much has changed in America since the counterculture revolution that began in the 1960s followed by the emergence of digital technology.
In many ways Woolf's view of her proper life as reflected in that looking glass is as far removed from today as was the world of Alice going through her own looking glass in those books by Lewis Carroll.
This huge dividing line of difference between then and now could well create a special place for these period dramas. A kind of nostalgia theater, occurring in a strange world where there is an orderly society of manners and a collective wisdom passed down over many generations – the same way concert audiences today still enjoy listening to love songs written in the 1920s and 1930s.
Each of the stories has a distinctly different feeling, though all are performed with the same seven cast members wearing more formal attire from the earlier 1900s in dark browns and grays on an open stage dominated by Grecian (or maybe Roman) columns. Lit softly, everything has the monochrome tint of a tintype photo.
It is the distinctive voice in Woolf's writing the ties all the pieces together. Some stories are humorous, some thoughtful, some tender, and all filled with a richness of character that is spellbinding.
Each cast member has several spotlight moments, sitting at the back of the stage when it is someone else's turn. The cast members are: Connor Foster, Patty Gallagher, Holly Griffith, Cynthia Jeffery, Kathryn Kellner Brown, Ryan Parker Knox and Meier. The director is Joseph McGrath.
Titles of the stories are: “Monday or Tuesday,” “The Lady in the Looking Glass,” “Slater's Pins Have No Points,” “The Mark on the Wall,” “The New Dress,” “The Duchess and the Jeweler” and “The Searchlight.”
A musical touch of the period is added in accompanying pieces by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie , J.S. Bach and Friedrich Chopin, all played from the stage by pianist Charles Zoll to separate the stories.
“The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Concert of Seven Stories by Virginia Woolf” continues through March 15 at the Rogue Theatre, 300 E. University Blvd., with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m., Sundays; plus 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14.
All tickets are $32. For details and reservations, 551-2053, or visit www.theroguetheatre.org
The run time is two hours, including intermission.