The Case Of Katherine Mansfield

15 September 2012 | 12:12 pm | Bethany Small

The set and costumes for this play, adapted from the diaries and correspondence of Katherine Mansfield, are mainly pure white, with highlights of scarlet – like the flushed cheeks and pallor of a person with tuberculosis. Its one-hour duration on a tiny stage in a tiny venue can be seen as an allusion to the short story form of which its subject was a master. In a script by Cathy Downes, The Case Of Katherine Mansfield follows its heroine from being a girl desperate to get away from her family and native New Zealand through escape to Europe and establishment of a literary career alongside the likes of D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, to her tubercular death at the age of 34 in a sanatorium in France. Mansfield's theories of life and of writing comprise the majority of the script, her strange romance and marriage with John Middleton Murry giving the play structure as she believed it gave her life form. Rosanna Easton as Mansfield conveys a sense of her ardency and affectations as she strikes attitudes across the stage in the sequences where she speaks as Mansfield, and brings immediacy to her work as an author in several powerful readings from Mansfield's published work. Easton is joined onstage by Alex Bryant-Smith as Murry, who, silent aside from the very beginning and end of the play, is an absorbed and tender and troubled observer. Directed by Ashley Hawkes, it featured onstage cello accompaniment by Simeon Johnson.