Review: ‘Orlando’

Review of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’, adapted for the stage.

The Oxford Culture Review

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando remains one of the most daring and unusual novels of the early twentieth century. Based loosely on the life of Woolf’s companion Vita Sackville-West, the semi-biographical narrative spans over three hundred years as it follows the life of Orlando, a sixteenth century nobleman at the court of Elizabeth I, who abruptly changes gender at the age of 30 and continues to live through to the twentieth century as a woman. It challenges perceptions of gender, how we write history, and fundamentally reconfigures the stylistic possibilities of biographical writing. Subsequently, much of the impact of Orlando lies in its manner of construction, meaning that a stage adaptation faces significant challenges from the outset. Is it possible to capture the chimerical world conjured up by Woolf in a far more concrete setting; how does one negotiate the distinct lack of dialogue in the book?

Nonetheless, this week sees Byzantium…

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