DogOrange presents this classic monologue with panache, as A Woman Alone slowly unravels under the pressure of household tasks, sexual and mental strictures, and a life trapped in her marital apartment, by herself but for “the brother-in-law” and her two children (none of whom we see).
In the young company’s expert hands, five women take on the title role, and it’s testament to the richness of Dario Fo’s and Franca Rame’s piece that each actor has a credible, separate identity, though indelibly linked in the course of the show which clocks in at just under an hour and half.
Strong character work does director and DogOrange founder Matthew Parker’s five-fold vision justice. Alison Shaw, the first woman on stage, captures attention throughout as a browbeaten Yorkshire wife, suddenly bursting into energy while dancing to the radio at full blast. Cristiana Dell’Anna’s fiery Italian bursts are full of dark comedy as much as simmering frustration; Laura Harling is the psycho, wielding a gun, whereas Fleur Shepard’s softly spoken Woman is in fairy land, and Joanna Waters’ unapologetic recounting of her affair with “the boy” brings us back full circle to a surreal realism.
Perfectly nuanced lighting and a refreshingly up-to-date soundtrack, featuring the likes of Regina Spektor and Bjork, give this visual kaleidoscope of character and physical comedy added punch. Factor into this equation the most hilarious ironing sequence to ever grace the stage, A Woman Alone is the most impressive piece of its scale I’ve seen in a long while.