Archive for October 29th, 2010

Lovely coincidences were a big part of the day when I saw Sara Ruhl’s stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando in New York City earlier this month.

The first coincidence was that I already had a one-day trip to New York City planned for the last weekend of the production. So while my traveling companions went off to see the Saturday matinee of Promises, Promises on Broadway, I headed to East 13th Street and the Classic Stage Company to see Orlando.

When I got there, I waited for the second lovely coincidence, which was the fact that I was attending the performance with Vinny Ciarlariello, a NYU graduate student with whom I had worked at the University of Akron’s student newspaper last year.

Vinny Ciarlariello outside the Classic Stage Company

But before Vinny arrived, the third lovely coincidence walked up. Anne Fernald, professor of English at Fordham, editor of the upcoming Cambridge University Press edition of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and blogger over at Fernham, was there to see the show and headline a post-performance Q&A session.

Afterwards, it was no coincidence that Anne, Vinny and I agreed that Ruhl’s adaptation was absolutely brilliant.

Here’s what I loved about it:

  • The artful simplicity of the production, which used a lighted portable model to depict Orlando’s huge estate and a huge billowing square of white cloth to simulate the frozen Thames.
  • The fantastic huge gilt-framed mirror that hung above the stage, reflecting the performance below and offering a unique perspective of it as well.

    Anne Fernald after her Q&A

  • The insightful performance of Francesca Faridany in the title role and her perfect blend of humor and intensity.
  • The lyrical dialogue, which was 90 percent Woolf.
  • The simple all-white costumes, which managed to convey the gender changes of Orlando and the actors who played multiple roles.
  • The fun of the golden wedding band hoop skirt that Orlando wore over her regular costume when the Victorian urge to marry overtook her.
  • The artful “skating” of Annika Boras, who played Sasha. And her gorgeous wine velvet costume, complete with soft-soled flat suede boots.
  • The venue, which was intimate and immediate.
  • The fact that when it was over, I wanted to see the entire performance again.

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