Friday, September 24, 2010


Sarah Ruhl takes a story theater approach, in which the actors narrate the story, in adapting Virginia Woolf's Orlando for the stage and the result is a visually appealing production that highlights the poetry in Woolf's words.

Orlando opened last night at the Classic Stage Company and runs through October 17. Orlando is a young man in Elizabethan England who has a way with women until he wakes up one day to discover he has changed sexes and has to live as a woman, never growing old, through the 19th and 20th centuries. Last year, Nina Arianda stole the show in CSC's Venus in Fur and this year the company has another breakout star in Francesca Faridany. She is believable as both the male and female versions of the character.

Allen Moyer's scenic design is lovely in its simplicity. The stage is a grassy turf with a mirror hung up above and a small portable model of Orlando's house. One of the most stunning moments is when a white sheet is used as frost to cover the grass, and then is slowly peeled away as the frost melts. Anita Yavich's costume design is often playful, such as the Queen Elizabeth costume that David Greenspan dons.

Due to the fact that the characters are often narrating the story with little action or dialogue, the play is somewhat lacking in dramatic tension, especially for one who hasn't read the book or seen the movie, but as the words and movement of the characters flow so effortlessly, it makes for a relaxing two hours of theater.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

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