“Orlando” brings humor, depth to production premiere

Brendan Swogger

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Trudging through the torrential downpour that welcomed The Grove, students, staff, and community members made their way to the Tom Miles Theatre the night of Oct. 17 to experience the premiere performance of Pacific University’s production of “Orlando.” 

The performance is directed by Matthew B. Zrebski and stars Leiana Petlewski, ‘21, in the title role.

Based on the novel by Virgina Woolf and adapted for the stage by Sarah Ruhl, “Orlando” follows the titular character as they journey through love, self, and time, seeing life from both the perspective of a man and a woman. 

Pacific’s production puts focus on Ruhl’s razor-sharp dialogue, at times bitingly funny, and at others, poignant, personal, and full of heart. All this allows the richness of the characters to fully form.

Each actor in the production brought life to every character they portrayed, some taking on as many as eight different roles over the course of its two acts, and all taking part in some sort of gender-bending at one time or another. 

Though some of this is played for comedic value, the ambiguity of some characters, especially Orlando themselves, brings about depth, beauty, and an especially poignant message.

As Orlando lives through centuries of life, each one exploring a new side of themselves and allowing for growth and acceptance from within, the message that is delivered is one that strikes a chord with anyone who may have struggled in finding identity themselves.

Though Orlando’s journey may have been over the centuries, in our own lives, we too take on many different identities. 

What is most important is the freedom to learn, to explore, to see life through many lenses, and to look back not with regret or confusion, but contentedness in a life well-lived. After all, at the end, all that is left is love.

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