The-Cast-of Orlando-photo-by-Angel-Leggas-3-Fates-MediaFusing a classic novel, Australian storytelling charm and music reminiscent of a Kate Bush fever dream, Orlando is a thrilling yet meditative exploration of gender and self.

Encompassing multiple bodies and generations of time, Orlando navigates a life filled with mistakes and promise, all leading them down the path to discover their truest self.

Willow Sizer and Rachel Lewindon weave a dreamscape world around the already whimsical narrative. Rather than pushing again, Sizer and Lewindon lean into Virginia Woolf’s writing and structure, ensuring that character, song and speech all fall in sync with the core of the work.

The songs are truly breath-taking, each landing right where it needs to within the work. Rather than shifting the story along, the music and songs ground a moment and elevate the emotional response, creating beautifully melodious crescendos and masterfully crafted harmonies.

Margot Fenley directs the work with the creative ease of a painter or orchestra’s conductor – knowing exactly what action and what moment will perfect balance with the next and how it will best serve the story.

The heightened tension is luxuriously ebbed and flowed, with Fenley keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, as Orlando’s life meticulously unfolds before them.

Marty Alix, Manali Datar, Louie Dalzell, Willow Sizer and Kikki Temple are an absolutely perfect ensemble, each bringing a wealth of talent and skill to the stage. There is a celebration of the individual in the unity, a coming together of their unique abilities to form a symbiotic swirling of voices that carry the work to dazzling heights.

Bethany J Fellows designs are exquisitely timeless, perfectly complementing the nonlinear story while still giving the work a grounding and anchor. The costumes are uniform but bespoke, allowing each character to take shape through each performers body and voice.

Apart from a few jarring references to a rooted date and time and the sometimes intentional overwrought moments of prose, this is a sublime work of theatre that once again showcases the immense talent of independent creatives.

fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Sunday 5 November 2023
Season continues to 11 November 2023
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Image: The Cast of Orlando – photo by Angel Leggas | 3 Fates Media

Review: Gavin Roach