ORLANDO Jermyn St theatre WC2

WOOLFING ROUND THE GENDER BEND

A bit of a conversion experience for me, this. Disliked Woolf for years, Lighthouse and Waves and all, and therefore never read Orlando. Thought of it as a bit of neurotic whimsical Bloomsbury myth-making – which is not entirely wrong, but failed to discover that it is really funny and sweetly more simple and less angsty than the rest. “a writer’s holiday”, as Woolf herself said..  

      And this jolly adaptation by Sarah Ruhl, directed con brio by Stella Powell-Jones, is a 90- minute treat and holiday too.  And whoever found Taylor McClaine – fresh outa Dublin, a professional debut – needs an ovation.  This is an  Orlando any Woolf would gobble up. 

.   For thekid – pronouns they/them, which is appropriate and less annoying than it often is – is enchanting: boyish and ladylike in turns, rocking  agelessly from the Elizabethan court through Jacobean, Enlightenment and Victorian cultures and costumes (Emily Stuart’s   costumes for Orlando in both sexes are sumptuous, the chorus parts outfits historically-wittily nuts). 

      The rest too  are a hoot:  Skye Hallam as Sasha nicely glamorous with a ridiculous Russian accent, and –  forever changing hats –  three others: Tigger Blaize, Rosalind Lailey and Stanton Wright each with a physical comic edge and nimbleless in narrating and reacting that serve the tale beautifully.  It’s a squib, a jollity, but perfect in form. Good old Jermyn St.

Www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk to 28 May

Rating. Five

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