A Room of One's Own

Show Reviews


On the 7th of September I had the privilege of being taken as a guest on press night to see A Room of One's Own at the Malting's Theatre in St Albans, produced by Dyad Productions.

This was an hour-long, one-woman show, derived from Virginia Woolf's 1928 exploration of women, poverty, literature and art throughout history. I'll admit now - I went in blind. I knew nothing of the show, the company or the writers so I had no expectations to be wowed. But this show did so much more than wow. It silenced me entirely.

From the outset, Vaughan gripped us with her charm and confidence. As an audience we knew that we were in safe hands and that we'd understand this story being told to us. Vaughan didn't miss a single beat.

Powerful message

It's hard to formulate exactly what I thought of this show, purely because it's the first time I have walked away from a piece of theatre feeling like it has actually changed me - or rather, woken me up.

Woolf's dramatized exploration of how few women there are in art throughout history was almost like a sad song, before morphing into a call to arms. Hearing out loud, in such an eloquent way, that women are all but non-existent in the history books - unless spoken about in relation to men - was utterly heart-breaking.

The silence in the auditorium was palpable as every single one of us realised the gravity of what we were being told. For centuries women were possessions - objects of intrigue and fascination - not people with the ability to feel and create and destroy as they saw fit.

Despite the sadness of this initial message, there was no sadness in the character of Virginia Woolf on stage before us. The most fitting term would be a fire in her belly. Vaughan could have chosen to be melancholic, she could have mourned all of the lost work of these women but she didn't. Instead, she kept us moving forward, and excited for the conclusions she was going to draw.

She quickly established the connection between creative freedom and financial security, and therefore established that because women were not financially independent, they could not be creatively free. This revelation turned the mirror on us as the audience. The first thought in my head was "how privileged I am to be in a position where I can create". This related directly to something repeated through the whole show - "all you need is £500 a year and a room of one's own". (I may be paraphrasing but the sentiment remains).

Freedom to create

One of the main points raised in the show was that despite many artists distaste for material things and money - every artist needs those material things and money to be able to be truly creative and free. And despite the feminist-leaning nature of the show, this is a non-gendered sentiment. It became something to really reflect on - how many glorious stories are going untold because the authors do not have the means to explore that side of themselves? How many songs not sung? How many paintings not painted? How many stages empty of performers?

My favourite part of the show was when the idea of Shakespeare's fictional sister was introduced, named Judith. She had all the same natural born talents and inclinations as him but, as a woman in the 1500s, was not afforded the same privileges as he was. Forced to live out her life as a housewife, she became sad and eventually took her own life - only memorialised on her tombstone as someone else's wife.

The final build of the show centred around the resurrection of Judith Shakespeare, and how female-identifying writers today can honour her memory by doing the things that she couldn't do. Vaughan presented this in such a way that it truly felt like a call to arms, and I personally felt a great sense of responsibility fall onto my shoulders.

Even if we do not become the greatest writers that ever lived, as women and female-identifying people, we have a duty to honour those that had their voices silenced before us. And this isn't about going out and protesting in the streets; it's about being authentic and independent and creative. Allowing ourselves to channel the spirits of the huge sisterhood of creative women over the centuries and creating our own art.


I think one of the most poignant things about this show that will forever stay with me was the quiet reflectiveness with which we left the theatre. Although Vaughan had rallied us to be the people that we dream of being, there was also the lingering knowledge of women being used as toys in literature and a means to ensure the creation of more men.

Due to the nature of the show the audience was about 95% female. My partner was one of the only men there and one of the things he said to me as we left made me realise how important this piece of theatre actually was.

He was very quiet as we left which initially led me to thinking he hadn't enjoyed it, but he informed me that he was trying to formulate into words how he was feeling. He said to me that it had made him realise how badly he himself had been writing women and how he still had plenty of blind spots to navigate when it came to his writing.

I've spoken a lot about the thoughts and feelings that this show conjured in me, and I think that is a massive credit to the show itself, and in particular to Rebecca Vaughan. The story was so engaging, and Vaughan was exciting to watch, she had such a strong charisma and charm and was so easy to understand.

Honestly I have to say this is by far the best one-person show I have ever seen and the sense of passion and understanding that I left it with was utterly unparalleled.

Reviews Hub

A Passionate performance: this is a glorious adaptation - thrilling an utterly captivating.

The award-winning Dyad Productions return to the York Theatre Royal with their latest offering, a twenty-first century take on Virginia Woolf's celebrated pre-TED talk. Here, actor Rebecca Vaughan performs Woolf's 1928 exploration of the impact of poverty and sexual inequality on intellectual freedom and creativity.

The dialogue is colourful, as crisp as an autumnal morning. Vaughan lectures her listeners with an often humorous case study on women and literature. Quintessentially British but with an air of maddening charm, she delivers this one act monologue with a gutsy intelligence. The audience in the packed out studio theatre listen in and are fully invested in her Cliff Notes with themes still pertinent today.

This relevant examination of women is played out with a sense of urgency. Vaughan commands the space with strong physicality and poise reminiscent of Woolf; a passionate performance.

The subject is fully explored in essay-style storytelling, the spectators fully invested in the action and listen intently as the themes are explored.

Poetical history dictates that, in literature and plays, women are colourful characters but as Woolf reminds us this is nothing but fiction and fantasy. Such women (especially those with little wealth) are almost absent from history. There's plenty of pause for thought here, an intimate but utterly thrilling interpretation of Woolf's work. She was, after all, possessed with a complex but brilliant mind; compelling and purposeful.

As one would expect from Woolf, the writing is wordy but it is far from heavy. Vaughan never misses a beat as the rhythm of the work flows so brilliantly.

Woolf sadly took her own life in 1941 but the memory of her novels, essays and ramblings have never felt so pertinent in this passionate interpretation of the literary genius. This is a glorious adaptation - thrilling and utterly captivating.

This one act, one woman masterclass runs at just over an hour and 60 minutes never passed so quickly.

Down Recorder

Inspirational A Room of One's Own lets women's creative voices be heard.

The inspirational performance of 'A Room of One's Own', was the perfect way for the Open House Festival to return to Bangor Space Theatre after a three-year hiatus.

The covid-19 health crisis may have put paid to stunning actor Rebecca Vaughan and Dyad Productions performing in 2020 but this week's audience will agree it was well worth the wait. With a performance time of just over an hour, this was an enthralling performance by Vaughan in her one-woman show that was enlightening, disturbing at times and ultimately inspiring.

As the award winning creators of 'Female Gothic', 'I, Elizabeth', 'Christmas Gothic' and 'Austen's Women', this was a 21 st century take on Virginia Woolf's celebrated pre-Ted talk. 'A Room of One's Own' is a published version of two lectures Woolf gave to women's colleges including Newnham and Girton in 1928 and the play was created specifically in response to the changing shape of theatre during the covid-19 pandemic. Dyad's overarching remit is 'to showcase the voice of women' and Vaughan gripped the audience with her confident performance as we jolted back in time to nearly a century ago when women had just secured the vote, in the Equal Franchise Act of 1928.

In essence, the play's main theme is that a woman 'must possess £500 a year and have a room of her own' if she wants to become a writer, and explored the impact of poverty and sexual inequality on intellectual freedom and creativity, shining a light on the suffocating nature of patriarchy throughout the ages.

The audience was taken on a wry, amusing and incisive trip through the history literature, feminism and gender and met the greats such Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Aphra Behn and Shakespeare's sister - Judith.

In this superbly delivered monologue, Vaughan moved effortlessly from her chair and side table filled with books, to strolling through the college library, and looking out the window of 'A Room of One's Own'.

The play gave us a valuable insight into Woolf's character, as an independent and passionate woman, who championed the idea that women of all classes should be able to 'write what you wish, create what you wish'.

It was disturbing to be reminded that it was just 150 years ago that married women were only able to own their own property and a further five decades would pass until women were given the right to vote.

As the play drew to a close, Woolf certainly gave her modern day audience plenty of food for thought. We have certainly come a long way in the past century, but we all know we still have a long way to go to ensure a fair society for all.

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