It’s an odd checklist. A love destined for tragedy. An epic of Greek mythology. A Jazzy & Bluesy Concept Album, and a musicians’ gigging style. An ‘intrinsic’ cast and “jazzzzz banddddd….” lolling around battered wooden furniture, giving off a “we’re just a bunch of pals” vibe. Such things are the ingredients of Hadestown and could well bring to mind visions of an horrific Time, Miss Saigon, Lost mash-up that would drive even the most die-hard Musicals fan to run the other way for their last train ticket to Hell...

It’s wrapped in a confidence of style and with a naughty sense of fun.

Luckily you can push aside the idea that such a structure that weaves together themes of death and hopelessness with a little poetry could create anything miserable. For the sum of these parts – along with casting that is so good that you worry for the next production, and a setting that makes the vast Olivier seem inclusively intimate – is a show that should be your next Must-See, and could happily take its place on the list of the Mizzes, the Phantoms and the Saigons to running in a theatre somewhere across the globe every day of the week. It really is that good.

It’s over 12 years since Anais Mitchell began her journey to compose this musical version of the tale you probably don’t know that you do know. Yet it feels as fresh as if just written now for this Olivier staging - the warm-up to its Broadway run in 2019 - with intelligently infectious lyrics, a score that will make you bop and boohoo, and a whip crack tight chorus that fill the stage with energy.

For those who really don't know the story, let me summarise. For those who do, let me apologize...    

On a cold and miserable Earth, Eurydice is barely existing, until she is taught how to live by the “greatest musician and poet there ever was”, Orpheus. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ground – literally, thanks to the depth of the Olivier’s revolve being used to great effect – Hades’ underworld resembles a burning factory of the Industrial Age, where the souls he owns are endlessly made to build and build, more and more. As his world gets hotter, so above it gets colder – apart from for the six months he allows Persephone to take up with her the sun, only making both sides worse off when she departs for the other.

As Orpheus focusses on his other obsession, to finish that “one song” that will forever bring flowers and sunshine, love ceases to be such a good food supplement, and the ever-hungry Eurydice starts to wander. You can’t blame her. For all their ‘love is like a petal’ stuff, poets are often poor. And poets often get tedious. Very quickly. It shows remarkable restraint that she didn't punch him square in the face rather than endure another rhyming couplet. I know I would. Really. Here the few spoken words there are, still rhyme as though they were actually meant to be sung before the decision was made to cast Rex Harrison. (Google reference- My Fair Lady movie trivia.)

So it’s understandable that she is all too easily tempted and accepts the ticket to Hadestown and the promises of a bed, warmth – and of course food – that Hades offers. In return for her soul. As is often the way with the romances and life-changing decisions made in musicals, there’s little depth to the relationship of the romantic leads – she’s pretty much ordering the Uber to the Underworld as he’s wiping the cum stain off the duvet – but if the source of true love has precedent as being one war-torn night with a prostitute, or a garden gate glance before revolution, then this is no different. And of course, lost and lifeless without her – possibly too busy finding a rhyme for insidious to notice she’d left – he takes the back road to Hadestown to reignite the passion in Hades’ love and the, well, the life really, of Eurydice. And the adventures ensue…oh but this is a tragey. And tragedies don’t end well.

As Eurydice, Eva Noblezada, has the power and pain to her voice that is perfect for the role, no doubt aided by the parallels with her much praised Kim in the recent revival of Miss Saigon. Reeve Carney suffers more as Orpheus but, constricted further by having to repeat the stanza of the “one song” – a screech of a whine that sounds more like nails on a blackboard than a call to spring – I’m not sure anyone could do much better In the part that seems to be written as a scapegoat to avoid five stars. 

Overall it basks in a confidence of style and has a naughty sense of fun seeping through even the darkest of moments of what is essentially a depressing tale of the pointlessness of hope. Andre de Shields is delightful as his playful Hermes is all lascivious winks and soft shoe shuffle, whilst Amber Grey’s Persephone is consistently just the right side of party-pleasing pissed, with flames erupting from her soul as she sings, showing the strength of her love as much as her desire for fun.

Grey is here from the original cast along with Patrick Page as her Hades. And Page is something else altogether. He only needs to be standing quietly on the edges as an onlooker, and he draws you to him, exuding a commanding control over all that he sees. But when he sings, boy does he sing. His voice somehow goes deeper than Hell itself, and with each descent seems to get more rich and more powerful. As rich and powerful as the Devil himself perhaps. Page’s performance is the darkest of chocolate that oozes and spreads over a the sweetest of productions that you would happily experience death by. Make your friends on Broadway jealous by enjoying your slice first.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Simon Ximenez


Viola's Room

Garrick Theatre

Regards to Broadway

Trafalgar Theatre

People, Places & Things

Lyttelton Theatre

London Tide

Dorfman Theatre

Underdog: The Other Other Brontë

Gillian Lynne Theatre

Standing at the Sky's Edge


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Following record-breaking runs at New York Theatre Workshop and Canadas Citadel Theatre, Hadestown comes to the National Theatre prior to Broadway.

In the warmth of summertime, songwriter Orpheus and his muse Eurydice are living it up and falling in love. But as winter approaches, reality sets in: these young dreamers cant survive on songs alone. Tempted by the promise of plenty, Eurydice is lured to the depths of industrial Hadestown. On a quest to save her, Orpheus journeys to the underworld where their trust is put to a final test.

Most Popular See More

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets