GM Fringe digital review: Tigers in the Wisteria

Lita Doolan’s latest digital theatre production is a 30-minute monologue for Ottoline Morrell, who searches Bloomsbury in 1922 for a love letter to leave to her lover; one he will never read.

The tiger of the title is inspired by Ottoline’s stonemason; and wealth, sexuality, and power all come to the front in this confessional story whispered confidentially in our ear.

It is undoubtedly romantic, meticulously brave, and accompanied by images that give a sense of the world in which Ottoline lived a century ago.

As a rich hostess who mixed in social circles with the intelligentsia, Ottoline was both influencial and unconventional, said to have enjoyed extramarital affairs with both Bertrand Russell and Dora Carrington, and others.

Promotional image for Tigers in the Wisteria

But Tiger, her young stonemason, may have been the inspiration for Mellors in DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the love and lust across class and status barriers.

Tigers in the Wisteria gives a woman of the early 20th century her voice back and reaches into the sights, sounds, and emotions that moved her most. It is written in a highly stylised style that suits an English Lady out of her comfort zone.

The real Ottoline might not have been so lovelorn for one man alone when she had many; but who can say which interpretation is correct?

Ottoline’s obsessive search for the words she will never say stops her whirring mind and keen physicality settling on calm. She is brilliant in her art, but insecure in her self.

An intriguing piece, Tigers in the Wisteria played at the Greater Manchester Fringe during Jul 2023.