Rocking a minimalist set of a stool and a book, Lucy Roslyn performs this one person play drawing parallels between Virginia Woolf’s classic novel, and her own tumultuous foray into identity politics and relationships.

Roslyn's language and performance is beautiful, powerful, subtle, gut wrenching, funny and sombre

Roslyn spends the first part of her performance narrating an overview of the events in Orlando, the time hopping gender bending eponymous character’s quest for love and acceptance mirroring her own. Whilst Woolf wrote Orlando as ‘the longest and most charming love letter in history’ to married bisexual Vita Sackville-West, Roslyn directs her story to Bea - the married bisexual woman she had her first sexual encounter with. As Roslyn recounts the events of her liaisons with Bea, she confronts the demons of identity and acceptance which are inextricably intertwined therein. Roslyn is rejected by her friends at the mere mention of bisexuality, and is then ultimately rejected by Bea. The first cut is always the deepest, and one gets the distinct impression that this wound is nowhere near to healing.

As the performance starts, it’s clear Roslyn is a little nervous. Throughout the performance, she refers to how much time we have left with her, which I feel sad about because I want to be so overwhelmed and drawn in by her performance that in that moment, I forget everything else but her. What Roslyn has to say is powerful enough to enable that to happen, and in this she sells herself short. Her language and performance is beautiful, powerful, subtle, gut wrenching, funny and sombre. Comparing looking at her love like 'the way light hits a prism’, her facial expressions and whole body melting into each and every change of tempo and emotion, Roslyn is an extremely skilled story teller.

Orlando is a profound consideration of how labels can limit us, of how love can strengthen and defeat us in equal measure, with a nostalgic trip into the 80s to lighten the mood. As Roslyn re-writes the ending of Orlando in the most wonderfully uplifting spin-off, she rewrites the narrative of her own experience, as a mechanism for moving on to love again.

Reviews by Jodie McVicar

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The Blurb

Have you ever yearned to leave behind those definitions handed down to you: loud or quiet, male or female, straight, gay, working/middle/upper class? Lucy Roslyn's play is about a person looking to escape the identitarian bullshit of 2019 – just as Virginia Woolf imagined her own freedom in the pages of Orlando, a novel which strains at the borders of identity: are we any one thing? Or are our selves 'stacked like dinner plates' one on top of the other? Directed by JMK Award winner Josh Roche and following a sell-out run at VAULT Festival 2019.

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