The Yellow Wallpaper, which plays at the Waiting Room as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is an adaptation of a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman written in 1892, which explores the way Jane, a female writer is treated by her physician husband when he diagnoses her with vague, all-encompassing “temporary nervous depression.” It’s a well-paced psychological journey vividly portrayed by Christine Daniels as Jane.
Jane has been placed in a room with garish yellow wallpaper by a concerned, paternalistic husband, with little to occupy her time, imagination or mind, and as the play progresses it becomes increasingly clear what effect this has on this woman’s mental health. Daniels creates a nuanced portrait of Jane, slowly revealing to us her paranoia surrounding the wallpaper and allowing the stakes to creep toward an eventual apex as we realize that she is not as reliable a narrator as we had initially assumed. Director Jozel Bennett uses movement nicely to capture the sense of building anxiety and to help suggest that all may not be as it initially appears.
In adapting this short story for the stage Alison House has been faithful to the arc of the story and certainly does justice to interplay between Jane and the audience as they seek to look beyond the trivialities of wallpaper and examine what she is really saying. There are a few questions that having this story dramatized raises that House doesn’t adequately confront. Who is Jane talking to, why is she telling her story now, at what point in her life is she telling it and what is the context around this telling? A clearer sense of these answers would solidify the sense of stakes in the play.
In all, The Yellow Wallpaper is an engaging story and it is beautifully told here at the Waiting Room.
The Yellow Wallpaper plays at the Waiting Room (6040 Almon Street) at the following times:
Sunday Sep 6th – 9:15PM
Monday Sep 7th – 1:00PM
Wednesday Sep 9th – 7:40PM
Sunday Sep 13th – 2:30PM