Orpheus Adelaide Fringe 2019Joanne Hartstone, The Flanagan Collective & Gobbledigook Theatre, and Holden Street Theatres. Holden Street Theatres – The Sunken Garden. 22 Feb 2019


Orpheus returns to the Adelaide Fringe, having won weekly awards at both the 2018 Adelaide Fringe and at Fringe World in Perth this year. One may be forgiven for thinking that the troupe’s companion piece, Eurydice, won one or both of these awards, or even more, by reading the Eurydice poster, as that’s not the case.


In the ancient Greek myth, Eurydice is chased by Aristaeus, trods on a viper and goes straight to Hades. Her husband, Orpheus, proceeds to retrieve her; all he has to do is lead the way and not look back at her until they reach the light of day. But look back he does and she vanishes.


Both stories are updated to modern Britain and in Orpheus, Dave spies Eurydice across a crowded bar on his 30th birthday bash. Orpheus follows a similar narrative arc as Eurydice – both penned by writer Alexander Wright; there is a greater emphasis on the preamble of the biography of the eponymous character, how the couple meets and the fireworks of love at first site, than on the myth.


Orpheus is a spoken word performance, so no need for acting. The playwright narrates from an intrusive script he didn’t really need to hang on to. Imagery and metaphor rush out in torrents of energy and palpable emotional wonder. Moving randomly in the performance space, Wright tag teams with composer Phil Grainger on acoustic guitar. While, what one presumes to be, his own compositions are poetic and pertinent, we are dragged back to reality and our individualised nostalgia by rifts of Bruce Springsteen.


Yes, the tale of young love is beautiful, and lovingly told, but told for too long, and the drama that might have been accessed from the myth promised in the title is left wanting.


David Grybowski

3 Stars


When: 16 Feb to 16 Mar

Where: Holden Street Theatres – The Sunken Garden

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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