Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Spellbinding storytelling

21 January 2019

Fringe World review: The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre (UK), Orpheus ·
Circus Theatre @ Fringe Central, 20 October ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

This simple, lovely re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is the first you-must-see piece of theatre this Fringe World.

It’s the familiar story, told over millennium in hundreds of versions, of the master musician who dares to bring back his wife back from the dead, and whose failure, and their undying love, explains the bleakness of winter and the colours of spring.

British writer/actor Alexander Wright and musician Phil Grainger make the story modern by the substitution of the ancient Greek hero with Dave, an about-to-be-thirty English lad whose monochrome world bursts into colour when Eurydice walks into the karaoke bar where he’s singing Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”.

Once Eurydice dies and descends into the Underworld, though, the traditional myth takes over, and Wright’s storytelling skills guide us through its caverns, across the river Styx, past the dog Cerberus to the throne of Hades and his queen Persephone, who, moved by his plight, allow him to take Eurydice back to the living world, on one condition.

The rest we know.

Wright, who appears to read his story from an old, leather book, has beautiful emotion spiced with humour and humanity. Grainger, full and gentle, accompanies the story softly on guitar with his sweet songs – and some karaoke thrown in for our pleasure.

The whole effect is inventive and masterfully delivered – much in the style of the Scottish playwright David Greig, whose The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart is a more expansive companion to this work – and it was wonderful to watch the audience (even some who weren’t quite sure why they were there at first) fall under the spell of one of humankind’s greatest, saddest stories.

Let me repeat: a you-must-see production.

Orpheus plays the Circus Theatre at Fringe Central until January 29 and the Belgian Beer Cafe January 30 – February 3.

Pictured top are Alexander Wright and Phil Grainger in ‘Orpheus’.

Loading spinner

Author —
David Zampatti

David Zampatti has been a student politician, a band manager, the Freo Dockers’ events guy, a bar owner in California, The West Australian’s theatre critic and lots of other crazy stuff. He goes to every show he’s reviewing with the confident expectation it will be the best thing he’s ever seen.

Past Articles

Read Next

  • a group of musicians cluster around a harpsichord, wearing jeans and black shirts with a crowd looking on Pint-sized orchestra delivers a good brew

    Pint-sized orchestra delivers a good brew

    31 October 2020

    Large orchestral works in traditional concert halls might be out of the question but Sandra Bowdler discovers Bach in a brewery, thanks to the small and creative Australian Baroque ensemble.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 4 minutesMusic
  • James McMillan in 'The Jellyman'. Photo: Tashi Hall Bathed in blue jelly-like light, a man cuts into a blue jelly, against a backdrop of blue jelly. Jellyman is just the ticket

    Jellyman is just the ticket

    30 October 2020

    Live theatre is back at The Blue Room, with a new play that’s exciting, pertinent and ambitious, reports David Zampatti.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 4 minutesTheatre
  • Dave Seegar, Photo: Holly Garvey Extraordinary tales about ordinary people

    Extraordinary tales about ordinary people

    26 October 2020

    Created by local performance company Whiskey & Boots, The Bystander Project is a celebration of stories, art and shared humanity, says Xan Ashbury.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 6 minutesTheatre

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio