Hadestown dusts off antiquated mythology and brings it, with high energy and excitement, boldly swinging into the world of American folk and New Orleans jazz. This production is both funky and menacing whilst maintaining the integrity of Greek mythology within a lively speakeasy. Hadestown infuses a classic tale with colour and soul – both musically and, of course, literally with the souls of the underworld.
The story of Hadestown is a jazzy representation of the Greek myth of Orpheus (played by Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (played by Eva Noblezada) as depicted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It follows their tragic love story into the realm of Hades (played by Patrick Page), the God of the underworld, where the power of song becomes the only means to contend with the Gods.
The music of this production is warm, soulful and smooth. The majority of the plotting is done within song and is commanded by Hermes (played by André De Shields). His character captures tradition, is charmingly comedic and brings the sounds of New Orleans to the stage, particularly in the number ‘Road to Hell’. His energy and charisma is matched by the highly talented ensemble of workers whose choreography and vocal ability is emphatic and strong. Orpheus’ story revolves around the emotional power of song – a concept that this show truly captures.
It is, however, Eva Noblezada whose performance steals the show. Her delivery of ‘Flowers’ is outstanding – a true display of passion and compelling despair. Her voice is exquisite. Furthermore, the haunting harmonies of the Fates offer ominous, moralistic foresights particularly in ‘Any Way the Wind Blows’ and ‘When the Chips are Down’. Reeve Carney is similarly haunting in his many renditions of the ‘Chant’ where his ‘lalala-ing’ is incredibly hypnotic and a real display of refined vocal control and range.
This high standard is maintained through the acting. Patrick Page’s voice resonates in a rumbling bass complete with notes so low that they could reach into the underworld. His impassivity, along with the pinstripe business suit, makes his rendition of ‘Why We Build the Wall’ very poignant in today’s political environment and can be seen as a reflection of Trump. This moralistic depth defines the latter half of the musical; it is highly poignant and moving. Alongside Hades, Persephone (played by Amber Gray) demonstrates infectious revelry through her alcohol fuelled, fun loving characterisation – a welcome relief from the tragedy.
Charmingly, the orchestra of mismatched jazz instruments is nestled amongst the action on stage thus capturing the bustling culture. There is also a revolving stage, comprising of a rise and fall middle section, which adds to the dynamic speed of the show and seamlessly illustrates the passage into and out of the underworld. With the exception of the occasionally blinding stage lights that interrupt full immersion in numbers such as ‘Wait for Me’, the staging cannot be faulted and is a sophisticated match for the talent on display.
Way down in Hadestown is the hottest and jazziest place to be.
- By Anaïs Mitchell
- Directed by Rachel Chavkin
- Cast includes: André De Shields, Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, Patrick Page and Amber Gray
- National Theatre
- Until 26th January 2018
- Time: 19:30. Matinee: 14:00.