Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Simple but gloriously effective

21 January 2020

In Eurydice, David Zampatti discovers the perfect companion piece to last year’s Fringe World hit, Orpheus.

Review: The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledigook Theatre, Eurydice ·
Biology Room at Girls’ School, January 18 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

Lovers of Greek mythology tend to focus more on the musician who descended into the Underworld than the wife he sought to bring back to the living one.

British writer Alexander Wright and musician Phil Grainger correct this oversight with Eurydice. It’s the perfect companion to their Orpheus, which for me was the highlight of last year’s Fringe World (and returns this year).

Their storytelling technique is simple but gloriously effective. At one end of a traverse stage, a performer (Wright himself in Orpheus, Yoshika Colwell in Eurydice) “reads” from a journal while Grainger sings and plays guitar at the other.

They tell Eurydice’s story in song and slam poetry, slipping in and out of character as best suits. The trick – no, the magic – is that while the tale they tell stays loyal to the original myth, it is set in a very humble, ordinary, present-day England.

We first encounter Eurydice as a five-year-old called Leni, squabbling with her mother and playing with her superhero costumes. We don’t meet her dad, Apollo, but if you know your Greek you can imagine what that old rake is up to.

We do meet Leni’s first boyfriend and later husband, Ari, who apart from being a persistent suitor is also Aristaeus, the god of cheesemaking and beekeeping.

Their marriage, though, fails. There are long absences, there’s another woman, silences, regrets and sadness. Divorce.

One night, fed up with her miserable circumstances, she dresses up and heads down to a local karaoke bar. There’s a bloke on stage, singing Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”. It’s his 30th birthday, his life, too, is pretty grim, and his name is Dave.

He’s Orpheus, really. But his story is another play.

Grainger is such a winning performer, soft-faced and soft-voiced, and his original compositions, intertwined with classic karaoke fare (“Time after Time” in particular) are sweet and insinuating. Colwell is emotionally rapid and flashing and brings great colour and movement to the text, in or out of Eurydice’s character.

They enjoy an unusual relationship with the audience that becomes clear in a terrific moment when Grainger steps away from the script to ask whether anyone had seen Orpheus, to be greeted with a sea of happily raised hands.

I’m sure the audience all left the hot little room in Girls’ School (tip: take a fan) with the same thought as me: Ye gods, they’ve done it again!

Eurydice runs until January 27 at Girls’ School and then until February 9 in the Pleasure Garden. Orpheus also runs until January 27 at Girls’ School. A third show by Wright, Grainger and Colwell, The Gods The Gods The Gods, runs from January 28 to February 9 in the Pleasure Garden.

Pictured top is Yoshika Colwell in ‘Euydice’. Photo: Seiya Taguchi

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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.

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