As Clarissa Dalloway prepares to host a party in 1920s London, she is unexpectedly reunited with her old friend Peter Walsh in a novel that shifts among the inner monologues of its many characters and is darkened by the terrors and hallucinations of parallel protagonist Septimus Smith. Juliet Stevenson’s performance—with its lyricism and lilt—is perfectly matched to Woolf’s text and transports the listener. Stevenson produces a delightful range of distinct voices—her introspective, fragile Clarissa and stormy Peter are particularly strong.
Virginia Woolf’s modernist classic, Mrs. Dalloway, is an iconic description of Post World-War I London. Its honesty is poignant. Stoic exteriors and rigorous social standards are depicted as convenient facades for disillusioned and fretful internal monologues. Frequent flashbacks and stream of consciousness storytelling give listeners insight into the characters’ need to repress their fears and concerns in order to force a sense of order on a cruel world. Juliet Stevensson, a leading actress in the UK, expertly performs the novel. If Claire Dalloway, herself, were to speak these words, they would sound no different. The tension, worry, and desires of the characters’ thoughts are magnified by Stevenson’s intonation. It is a truly pleasurable, outstanding listening experience.