When will people ever learn that ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, the Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story this production is based upon, is impossible to successfully adapt?
Aiming to translate Gilman’s tale of a woman’s haunting descent in to madness fuelled by her obsession with the wallpaper of her bedroom, this production like so many before fails to realise that the drama of the story can only successfully be contained within Gilman’s original diary format. Presented as a one-woman show, this production by Amarillo Arts is progressively wearisome as it fails to capture the essence or horror of the narrative with its use of hackneyed music and futile interpretative decisions. Lesley Free’s performance isn’t bad, with one at times wondering how she’d work with a contemporary script or translation of the piece itself. However despite this, any credibility Free gains is lost by poor directorial decisions.
The set is abysmal, with no attempt at a fresh adaptation of the demonic wallpaper itself – a couple of gobos directed towards some crumpled sheets was deemed enough. Central in the admittedly restricting space stands the heroine’s bed, however rather than an actual mattress the company settled on an inflatable substitute that when exposed by the slipping bed sheets implied some sort of fetishistic chamber, doubtfully a conscious decision by the director as a reflective or symbolic contrast with the tiresome 19th Century setting. Perhaps with a few more squeaking gimp accessories the conclusion of this production would gain some chance of matching the powerful climax of the original.