In Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, each new act skates forward a century at a time. Here's a very brief take on the main plot points...
ACT 1: 16TH CENTURY
Living in Elizabethan England, Orlando is a young man of sixteen with great legs and dreams of being a poet. He meets the aging Queen Elizabeth I, who falls in love with him and bestows on him titles and riches; young women fawn on him. Icy weather brings him in contact with a beautiful Russian princess – Sasha. They become lovers and plan to elope, but Sasha leaves for Russia without him.
ACT 2: 17TH CENTURY
Alone and heartbroken, Orlando struggles to write a poem called ‘The Oak Tree’. Escaping the advances of an amorous archduchess, he takes a job as the king’s ambassador in Constantinople. An orgy and a Spanish dancer named Pepita leave Orlando sufficiently exhausted to sleep for a week. He wakes up to find he has been robbed and is now a woman.
ACT 3: 18TH CENTURY
Orlando sails back to England discovering the penalties and privileges of being female. She returns to writing ‘The Oak Tree’ and the amorous archduchess returns as an amorous archduke.
ACT 4: 19TH CENTURY
Submitting herself to the spirit of the age, Orlando takes a husband – a sea captain called Marmaduke Bonthrop Shelmerdine.
ACT 5: 20TH CENTURY
Orlando, now 36 years old, goes shopping in her car, chats with the ghost of Queen Elizabeth I and, finally, finishes her poem ‘The Oak Tree’.
This synopsis is part of the Orlando program, which also features:
- notes from Artistic Director Andrew Upton and director Sarah Goodes
- features on Virginia Woolf and her inspiration for Orlando, Vita Sackville-West
- biographies and photos of the cast and crew
- photos from the rehearsal room
- and much more!
Pick one up at the theatre for only $10.
Orlando, 9 Nov - 19 Dec 2015, Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House