It’s not a big surprise that the somewhat airy, twee writing style of Sarah Ruhl makes this “Orlando” less verbally piercing than the original Virginia Woolf novel, and the show is nothing if not thematically light, even as it takes on the big questions about romantic love and personal identity. But what Ruhl and director Jessica Thebus, who are longtime collaborators, pull off is somehow entirely fitting for a novel that began as an extended love letter from Woolf to her sometimes lesbian lover. A young nobleman during the Renaissance, Orlando is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth at court; he falls in love with a Russian princess; he travels to Istanbul as a consul, where he wakes up from a centuries-long sleep to find himself a woman in order to face our last three centuries of history. Ruhl is faithful to the epic plot of the story, and if the writing is occasionally insipid, Thebus easily makes up for it with inspired physical theater. A four-man chorus, comprised of 500 Clown’s Adrian Danzig and three of Lookingglass’ most agile performers, breathes life into the show with graceful clowning and exquisite choreographed movements. The technical theater is equally beautiful, with layers of billowing curtains and delicate but powerful lighting design. Overall, the performance is pure romance. (Monica Westin)
At Court Theatre, 5535 South Ellis, (773)753-4472. Through April 10.