Orpheus Adelaide Fringe 2024

Adelaide Fringe. The Yurt at The Courtyard of Curiosities, The Migration Museum. 17 Feb 2024


Orpheus is a modern take on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and it is just superb. It is written and presented by Alex Wright and Phil Grainger, who have been presenting the show around the world for several years, and they are totally at home with it.


The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is well known and has been retold in a range of forms, including opera. It is about Orpheus, a notable musician and poet, and his wife Eurydice who sadly passes away. Orpheus ventures to the underworld and enters into a pact with Hades, the god of the underworld, to return with his wife to the land of the living. Needless to say, it doesn’t turn out as Orpheus has hoped.


In Wright and Grainger’s retelling of the myth, Dave (i.e., Orpheus) is an ordinary bloke from Yorkshire who leads a colourless and routine life that reaches its high point each weekend when he goes to the pub with his mates where they drink, sing karaoke, and try to pick up girls. Dave’s life is turned upside down when Eurydice, a vision of loveliness dressed in blue and yellow, comes into the pub and catches Dave’s attention. Life is never the same for Dave from then on. It’s as if he is reborn. But, events transpire (no spoilers!), and… life is never the same again.


Wright is the storyteller, and he is gifted. He knows the power of the spoken word and has the audience eating out of his hand. Carefully chosen silences see the audience arch their backs in expectation of the next utterance. When he closes his eyes to underline a moment of joy and longing, the audience dare not blink as we savour the moment. His telling of Dave and Eurydice’s story is quite beautiful, and the passing of an hour seems just like a moment.


Throughout, Grainger interpolates extremely well-chosen extracts from songs to underline key points in the story. Bruce Springsteen gets quite a workout, and the audience willingly joins in. (This could go horribly wrong, but it doesn’t. Indeed, it assists the audience to invest more deeply in the narrative. Even Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, who was a member of the audience, got right into it!). Grainger sings to his own guitar accompaniment, and he uses a capo a lot of the time, which allows him to play in a leaner way that does not detract from the poetry.


Orpheus is quite an eye-opener - a gently emotional but also humorous theatrical experience.


Kym Clayton


When: 17 Feb to 3 Mar

Where: The Yurt at The Courtyard of Curiosities, The Migration Museum.

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au