Tag Archives: Sarah Ruhl


Orlando is a poignant and fun filled play based on Virginia Woolf’s spectacular novel, adapted by writer Sarah Ruhl, with its pioneering exploration of identity and gender. It is a wonderful story and this version is full of drama, insight and humour. Orlando is an excellent choice by the Sydney University Dramatic Society as their presentation for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The play follows Orlando from his time as privileged teenage boy through five centuries of English upper class life, a spontaneous gender transition, several diverse suitors, angst, marriage, civil unrest in Constantinople, gypsies and Orlando’s quest to write to alleviate the pettiness of much of their existence. There is a lot going and lots to explore and examine.

As a male Orlando almost thoughtlessly enjoys his joys and privileges. He is chosen to serve as a page at the Elizabethan court and becomes favourite of the elderly queen. Later he can enjoy pursuing lovers, hunting, fighting and life as the ambassador in Constantinople. After hosting a great party Orlando awakens to find that he has metamorphosed into a woman. She is now restricted by clothes, customs and attitudes. One simple but telling reversal is that she now serves tea to visitors instead of having tea served to her.

Director Sean Landis and his cast have enormous fun flirting, dancing, being melodramatic, playing up to caricatures, singing and having a great time. The audience was engaged and laughed at the exaggerations and silly nuances. These devices provided an excellent counterbalance to the ideas explored and the deep emotions aroused by this poignant story.

The excellent cast includes Isabelle Laxamana, Isla Mowbray, Madeleine Gandhi, Max Cattana, Rachel Seeto, Robbie Wardhaugh, Robin Eames and Sam Martin.

It was a delight to experience the musical accompaniment (string quartet, flute and keyboard) that supported the performance. Musicians were Verity Skala, Victoria Vu Tang, Jessica Snelleman and Claudia Stone-Stacy.

The team included Producer: Emily Henderson, Production Designer: Rosie Wylie, Assistant Producer: Ezara Norton, Circus Choreographer: Elliott Little, Set Designers: Iris Higginbotham and Paris Paris, Costume Designers: Dan Rogers and Hugo Fraser, Band Director / Composer: Sam Cheng, Sound Designer: Milly Kynaston, Hair & Makeup Artist: Tess Williams Assistant Hair & Makeup Artists / Stage Managers: Davina Oh and Shania O’Brien, Lighting Designer: Tom Hicks, Assistant Lighting Designer: Victoria Vu Tang, Graphic Designer: Aston J Ashley, Assistant Graphic Designer: Phoebe Russell, Interdisciplinary Artists: Christina Kim, Fergus Berney-Gibson, Kaylee Rankin and Zoe Clarke, AV Directors: Eoin O’Sullivan and Matthew Miceli, Production Assistant: Alex Bryant and Stagehand: Kaylee Rankin.

Orlando runs at The Cellar Theatre, Science Rd, The University of Sydney until 7th March. This is a very thoughtful and enjoyable show and with tickets at $12 the cramped and hot theatre space is a minor inconvenience compared to the benefits of experiencing this event.




Featured image credit: John Marmaras. Cast member: Ebony Vagulans.

Mad March Hare Theatre Co., in association with Red Line Productions presents the Sydney Premiere of EURYDICE.  Written by Sarah Ruhl this play re-imagines the classic myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine.

Dying too young on her wedding day, Eurydice must journey to the Underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. With contemporary characters, ingenious plot twists, and breathtaking visual effects, the play is a fresh look at a timeless love story.

Claudia Barrie​ ​(You Got Older, Dry Land, Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo) ​ directs an ensemble cast featuring ​Ebony Vagulans ​as Eurydice, ​Lincoln Vickery ​as Orpheus, ​Jamie Oxenbould​ as Eurydice’s Father, Nicholas Papademetriou​ as Lord of the Underworld and ​Alex Malone,​ ​Ariadne Sgouros​ and ​Megan Wilding​ as the Stones.

EURYDICE from Mad March Hare Theatre Co., [Facebook] in association with Red Line Productions [Facebook] playing at the Old Fitz Theatre, November 15 – December 15.

In the Next Room or the vibrator play


Jackie McKenzie listens at the closed door

Prominent contemporary American playwright Sarah Ruhl chose a great subject, a quirky, little known medical sidelight from history, for her new play ‘In the Next Room or the vibrator play’ and out of it has created a tremendous, often hilarious play from it.  

In the late 19th century, some modern thinking physicians were trialling women who were suffering from hysteria by using a new electronic invention, the vibrator!  Ruhl has one such a Doctor as the protagonist in her play. Dr Givings (David Roberts) has created a separate room in his family home for his surgery. The play opens with the Doctor taking on a new patient, Sabrina Daldry (Helen Thomson). Together with her husband Mr Daldry (Marshall Napier) she comes to the surgery, complaining of  hysteria and a lack of satisfaction in her marriage. The treatment begins and after the initial shock Sabrina is soon rushing back for more!

Ruhl’s play turns on the fact that Dr Givings has kept his wife Catherine (Jacqueline McKenzie) in the dark about his new treatment technique.  A young mother who spends most of her time at home, Catherine notices how Sabrina and her husband’s other female patients come out of her husband’s treatment room muh chirpier than when they went in! Her curiousity is pricked, what actually happens in the next room?!  She starts prodding some of his patients, what actually happens in there?! Sabrina is a bit cagey about it but one day, when her husband is out on an errand, they manage to get access and his secret world is revealed!

‘In The Next Room’ works beautifully as high pitched comedy of sexual mores. This play’s  achievement is also that it works, just as well, as a poignant study of a  marriage that has lost its way, of a wife who is deeply lonely and miserable, and of a husband who is totally self and career focused.

Pamela Rabe crafts a very satisfying Australian premiere production. Tracy Grant Lord set and costume design places us beautifully in the Victorian  era. The performances are a treat. Jackie McKenzie plays the waif like, neglected wife beautifully. David Roberts impresses as the emotionally disconnected husband. Mandy McElhinney is hilarious as the good Doctor’s deadpan faced assistant. Helen Thomson shines, giving a great comic performance as the ‘born again’ Sabrina. Marshall Napier plays her archly conservative husband. Josh McConville plays Dr Givings first male patient to receive the new treatment and his scenes are hilarious.

 A great night out, Pamela Rabe’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s play ‘In The Next Room or the vibrator play’ opened at the Drama theatre, Sydney Opera House on Friday 11th February and plays until Saturday 2nd April, 2011.