Laura Copestake

‘Orpheus’ at the Everyman: A Review

Old tales and ancient myths are always being retold in a variety of ways. Once again a legendary story has been brought to the Everyman stage, this time the epic tale of Orpheus.

This new play, brought to Liverpool from Battersea Arts Centre in a co-production with Little Bulb Theatre, tells the tale of Orpheus, a captivating musician and poet, who falls in love with Apollo’s daughter, Eurydice. After Eurydice is bitten by a serpent and dies, Orpheus follows her into the Underworld to persuade Hades, Lord of the Underworld, to allow her to return back to Earth with him. It’s a classic, tragic love story that the Little Bulb Theatre have brought their own unique twist to.

Set in a jazz café in 1930’s Paris, an ensemble of jazz musicians, with help from famous musician Django Reinhardt, played their way through a variety of music as the story of Orpheus unfolded. The entire production relied on few words, instead favouring grand gestures and bold musical numbers to create a detailed performance that possessed both light-hearted and serious moments.

The narrator of the performance was the Edith Piaf-like hostess, Yvette Pépin, portrayed by Eugenie Pastor who, as well as performing as Eurydice in the production of the play, showed great talent on the jazz flute and charmed the audience with her anxious, eager-to-please personality.

Pastor was supported by a variety of musicians who sang, danced and played their way through the performance. They merrily showcased their talents on the violin, accordion, double bass, clarinet and percussion instruments, and sang wonderful harmonies as a Greek chorus within the play. The beautiful undertone to this music was Charles Penn on the piano, who charmingly accompanied the performance from the side of the stage.

At the forefront of the production was Django Reinhardt, portrayed by Dominic Conway, who masterfully worked his way around the guitar to give an impressive performance, capturing the energetic essence of Reinhardt’s music.

This play-within-a-play brought a new and unique twist to two musical tales. Incorporating the myth of Orpheus to the story of Django Reinhardt created an upbeat and warm production that’s not to be missed.

(Image Credit: Everyman Theatre Website)

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