The Woman Watching

The Woman Watching

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Author: Paola Capriolo

Translator: Liz Heron

Publisher: Serpent's Tail (1998)

What is the nature of the actor's mask? At what point do performer and performance merge? Vulpius, a much admired young actor in a provincial rep company, develops an obsession with an unknown spectator whose gaze seems only for him, at first kindling fresh fervour in his mastery of each role, then leaving him a slave to artistic perfection.

With philosophical elegance and a macabre sense of comedy, Paola Capriolo draws the reader deep into this obsession, exploring the most compelling recesses of the theatrical experience where ritual and stylisation dominate. Dark questions emerge about the power of representation and the dangers of sacrificing life to art. The Woman Watching is a work at the very centre of the European literary culture: a culture it wears lightly and with elegance.