It is down to Strickland’s charm and dedication that the show works at all.
As in the novel, Queen Elizabeth I is revealed to be anything but the Virgin Queen not through Woolf’s own lucid prose, but in – dare I say it – an even camper version than Queen’s own Killer Queen. Much of the plot is moved forward with Strickland’s own versions of pop classics which, whilst being fun, sometimes felt as if they were poorly constructed: it might have been more effective to find a karaoke track rather than simply shouting over existing songs. The way to impress an audience is not usually to shout obscenities at them to the tune of Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain whilst delivering something vaguely reminiscent of a lap dance, but Strickland somehow manages to pull it off with a heady dose of charisma.
The recurring transformation between sexes/genders was at odds to the rest of the performance. Where Orlando was once a fun show, it descended into an uncomfortable avant-garde detail-ridden description of “self masturbation”. Had the rest of Orlando not been such an accessible and fun set, this might have been in tone with the rest of the show, but these sections stuck out like a sore thumb.
With the appearance of a singing vagina puppet – oddly similar to Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors – and Virginia Woolf played in the style of Nicole Kidman from The Hours, Strickland brought Orlando to its conclusion. It is down to Strickland’s charm and dedication that the show works at all; whilst there are sections that feel off and the songs could certainly do with a polish, there is no doubt that this is a lovely homage to Woolf’s work.