Reviews: What Do Critics Think of Sarah Ruhl's Orlando Off-Broadway? | Playbill

The Verdict Reviews: What Do Critics Think of Sarah Ruhl's Orlando Off-Broadway?

Will Davis directs the Signature production, adapted from Virginia Woolf's novel.

Lisa Kron, Jo Lampert, Taylor Mac, and TL Thompson in Orlando Joan Marcus

The reviews are rolling in for the Signature Theatre production of Spotlight Resident Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name, which officially opened Off-Broadway April 21.

Directed and choreographed by Will Davis, the production began previews April 2 at The Pershing Square Signature Center on The Irene Diamond Stage.

Taylor Mac (A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Bark of Millions) stars in the title role, joined by Janice Amaya (Lunch Bunch), Nathan Lee Graham (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Tony-winning Fun Home writer Lisa Kron, Jo Lampert (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire), TL Thompson (Straight White Men), and Rad Pereira (The Creator).

Orlando was written by Woolf for her lover, Vita Sackville-West. The title character’s adventures begin as a young man, when he serves as courtier to Queen Elizabeth. Through many centuries, he becomes a 20th century woman, trying to sort out her existence.

Read the reviews here.

New York Magazine/Vulture (Sara Holdren)*

New York Theatre Guide (Austin Fimmano)

New York Theater (Jonathan Mandell)

The New York Times (Elisabeth Vincentelli)*

TheaterMania (Pete Hempstead)

*This review may require creating a free account or a paid subscription.

Playbill will continue to update this list as reviews come in.

Director Davis said in an earlier statement, “One of the things the theatre does, and one of the things a lot of folks—myself included—have done is we call something into being: We name it, then we become it. Of course, sometimes in conversations around gender, there’s a perceived binary of transformation, but it’s more complex than that: The novel and the play are about fumbling towards self and the divine chaotic nature of that. We’re trying to replicate that in the ‘handmade’ worlds performers create and recreate. Every environment that the audience will experience century to century or scene to scene, we will watch the ensemble build and then take apart. That’s part of the dedication to a bid for liberation and the dramaturgical imperative of queer place-making: Define things on your own terms and then share that with others.”

READ: Taylor Mac and Will Davis on How Orlando Is a ‘Gift to the Queer Community’

Added playwright Ruhl, “I’ve experimented a lot with how to stage literary language theatrically—for instance, using narration in a way that’s theatrical. Soliloquy, and talking to and telling stories to the audience in a very transparent way, feel like such natural parts of theatre's toolbox, and yet it’s really common for actors to be timid about addressing the audience! So it makes sense that the cast comprises a number of writer-performers, who are really adept at handling this kind of language. In A 24-Decade History, Taylor Mac talked to the audience all night long. I remember first seeing that show—and seeing some of Machine Dazzle’s costumes on display in the lobby—and thinking, ‘Taylor needs to be Orlando.’”

The production also has scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Oana Botez, lighting design by Barbara Samuels, sound design and music by Brendan Aanes, intimacy coordination by Ann C. James, props supervision by Matt Carlin, and production stage management by Kasson Marroquin.

Performances continue through May 12.

Ruhl's other plays include Letters from Max, a ritual; The Oldest Boy; Dear Elizabeth; Stage Kiss; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2010); The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2005; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004); Passion Play (Pen American Award, Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play); Melancholy Play; Demeter in the City (nine NAACP Image Award nominations); Scenes From Court Life; How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday; Eurydice; and Late: a cowboy song.

For tickets and more information, visit here. 

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