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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This one-woman show by Cryptic Theatre is an adaptation of the 1928 novel of the same name by Virginia Woolf, which tells the story of a young man born in the 16th century who decides that he will never grow old. Orlando becomes a favourite of Elizabeth I, enjoys a torid affair with a Russian princess, lives in Constantinople as an ambassador, wakes up as a woman after a long illness, returns to England and eventually marries.

The company opts for a strongly technical approach that includes the use of innovative real-time tracking and projection, and a score full of loops and samples. This technology is in striking contrast to the play's historical material, but there are very few moments at which this gamble doesn't pay off, the music and projection adding vibrancy to Judith Williams's one-woman performance.

Darryl Pinckney's adaptation captures Woolf's tone and provides Orlando with some wonderfully poetic speeches, but the writer fails to shape the novel's extraordinary plot into a dramatically comprehensible format, making this is a baffling piece of work to watch. Williams gives an undeniably fine performance in the title role and there are some striking moments of theatre in this production, but with too much time spent creating atmosphere and too little time spent on storytelling, Orlando feels like an opportunity lost.


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