Review "Orlando": Love Story Transcends Time, Gender and the Ruhls!

Audio Podcast available on ITUNES
Narrated by Joshua Volkers


Court Theatre presents


Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf
Adapted by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Thru April 10th
Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Two hours includes a fifteen minute intermission

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl.  Boy wakes up as a girl.  Oh boy or girl, its a gender-bender tale of discovery.  Court Theatre presents ORLANDO based on the novel by Virginia Woolf and adapted to the stage by Playwright Sarah Ruhl.  Woolf wrote ORLANDO as a fantastical, love letter to, not her husband but, her mistress, Vita Sackville-West.  In the Elizabethan era, a teenage boy catches the eye of the Queen. She amply rewards him for his good looks and charm.  Orlando continues to captivate the ladies of the court until he falls hard for an ice skater.  She breaks the ice and later his heart.  He goes on a sexual bender to forget and wakes up seven days later as a woman. His sexual identity continues to be an ageless mystery. A thirty-something Orlando lives on to present day as an androgynous poet.  ORLANDO is “Benjamin Button” meets “Victor/Victoria” during the “Crying Game.”  It’s a love story that transcends time, gender and the Ruhls.

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Playwright Sarah Ruhls and Jessica Thebus have fun blurring the lines between men and woman!  Orlando is played as a high-spirited boy and later as an enlightened woman by Amy J. Carle.  Carle is magnificently vivacious flirting as the queen’s boy toy, princess’ plaything, and mariner’s wedded anchor.  Her unhesitant versatility to love freely adds to the sexual identity illusion. The 4-man chorus is bi-sexual… literally playing gals and guys.  The sexual energy crackles with hilarious, chaotic transition.  The chorus dons wigs and attitude to play different roles in Orlando’s journey through time.  Lawrence Grimm delivers a majestic cougar performance as Queen Elizabeth.  Grimm is one tall drink of humor using physicality to emphasize the farce.  Thomas J. Cox is hysterical as a guy in drag obsessed with Orlando the man.  Later, Cox returns as the guy drag-less but still obsessed with Orlando now the woman.  The other guys, Adrian Danzig and Kevin Douglas, add intricate layers of merriment to the ever-swirling spectacle. Erica Elam (Sasha) enchants as the Russian-speaking skater capturing Orlando’s heart.  Thebus creatively choreographs the entire show like a long, fluid movement narrating a man’s life.  The poetic dissertation stays lively with intermittent sketch comedy routines.  

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‘She was a man.  She was a woman.  She shared secrets and weaknesses.’  Woolf loved a man.  Woolf loved a woman.  Ruhl shares the secrets and the weaknesses of love complicated by society norms and human needs. Ruhl continues Woolf’s love letter making ORLANDO a lyrical view of attraction grounded in sex… the gender type.

Viewing his third play of her 2010/2011 season, Roger describes it with ‘Sapphist Sarah Ruhls!’

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