I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
Suranne Jones is out of time
Suranne Jones, who played Karen McDonald in Coronation Street, is taking on a gender-swapping role in a new production at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.
Suranne Jones as Orlando
Orlando is an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel. Its central character starts out as a young servant at the court of Queen Elizabeth 1st. He goes on to include a Russian Princess and the Queen herself in his colourful love life. During the reign of Charles 2nd, after a wild night in Constantinople, he falls into a trance and wakes up as a woman. Orlando then begins a century-spanning journey, which includes frequenting eighteenth century literary society and even marrying a sea captain.
The novel is adapted for the stage by American Sarah Ruhl. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play The Clean House.
The production, which opens the Royal Exchange's Spring/Summer 2014 season, is directed by Max Webster. He said: "Orlando is one of the strangest and most beautiful books ever written and in this skilful and funny adaptation Virginia Woolf's extraordinary story is brought to vibrant new life."
Suranne Jones is also well known to TV audiences as Rachel Bailey in Scott & Bailey and from her guest appearance in Doctor Who as Idris.
She is following another ex-Coronation Street star onto the Royal Exchange stage. Julie Hesmondhalgh, who starred as Hayley Cropper, appeared in the theatre's first production of 2014 – Blindsided, by Simon Stephens. Suranne Jones last appeared at the Royal Exchange in 2009 in a hilarious production of Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward.
The cast for Orlando also includes Thomas Arnold, Molly Gromadzki, Richard Hope, Tunji Kasim and Hetti Price. The play features live music and dance. Liz Ranken is in charge of movement and Vicki Amedume directs the cast in aerial choreography.
The production will be complimented by discussions and back stage tours, which are familiar features for Royal Exchange audiences. More details are on the theatre's website.