Expressivo (Performance Reviews)

REVIEW: ORPHEUS (Theatre / Folk)

Ancient Greek poet and musician, Orpheus, is given new life as modern-day Dave, who can only see the world in grey. Dave reaches a milestone, the age of 30, when the love of his life, Euridice, appears and fills his world with colour and light.

scaled_Orpheus_Holder_twoThe Flanagan Collective, Gobbledigook, and Joanne Hartstone combine their talents to produce this treasure.

Written by Alexander Wright, with music by Phil Grainger, this was a highly immersive and moving production. This story defies worldly limits, and stirs the soul, celebrating the most universal of emotions: love.

The audience were seated in two groups opposite each other with an aisle in between.

The actors, Vinnie Fusco and Phil Grainger, began their story in the aisle and moved about the theatre, dressed casually, with no props save for a notebook and guitar.

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A chat with Phil Grainger

There was no spectacle, no gimmicks, no fancy lighting, just pure unfiltered theatre delivered as honest and beautiful storytelling.

The unguarded listener could not help but surrender to the space and into the world of Dave and Euridice.

Grainger embodied the character of Dave while Fusco narrated the story in verse. The guitar rhythms and dynamics ebbing and flowing with Fusco’s languid oration.

Fusco is a master storyteller, and I held onto every word. As I looked around me, only the sound of infrequent laughter or sniffling from weeping disturbed the silence… such was the power of their tale.

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Phil Grainger. Photo by James Drury.

A handful of covers were arranged for solo guitar to support the plot, including hits by Jackson Five, Bruce Springsteen, and Whitney Houston. However, the poetry in Grainger’s original lyrics, the raw tone of his voice, and his tasteful guitar playing were commendable and captivating.

Themed songs were used to highlight different signposts in Dave’s story, and the lyrics reiterated the tragedy that had befallen this protagonist. Hearts broke as the story of Orpheus reached the inevitable end, and there were few dry eyes in the room.

This show is the epitome of my Fringe experience thus far, so much so that I watched it twice. If you ever get a chance to see this show, seize the opportunity!

Rating ☆☆☆☆☆

Reviewed performance: 3 March 2018

Orpheus on Youtube

Season Closed
Venue: Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Gardens

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