Orpheus and Eurydice

This was my first venture over to C eca, a venue with a reputation amongst some as being out of the way. This is not true – it’s only a short walk from C main on Chambers Street and not too far from the Royal Mile itself. The benefit of eca’s perceived seclusion is that it escapes C main’s raucous nightlife, and a production as delicate as Five One’s Orpheus and Eurydice perfectly suits this intimate venue.The script, written by Andrew Hanley and director Melissa Nally, invokes Orpheus’ attempt to rescue his new wife from the Underworld through direct storytelling in verse interspersed with more naturalistic scenes. Although a little stilted, these rhyming couplets have a timeless quality and hark back to the days of bards. Lyrics for most songs only add to the stasis of performance – for example, the letter song uses the uninteresting phrase ‘Dear Eurydice’ repeatedly, and this soon changed from poignant bell-tolling to a painful ringing in the ears.Orpheus’ minstrel profession traditionally validates the music in adaptations of Orpheus. Oddly enough, this production’s onstage instrumental talent came mostly from Eurydice, played by Brooke Bettis. It was she who plucked through the disappointingly simple chords, whilst Michael Kane Libonati’s Orpheus managed only one D-minor strum.Most of the musical accompaniment comes from an ethereal offstage piano played by the show’s composer and co-writer, Hanley. This spatial disconnection was sadly symbolic of the songs’ withdrawal from the plot. In this show the songs stop the action and express an emotion, rather than to progressing the story. Bettis and Kane’s challenge is to transform themselves into picture-postcard tragic lovers with little other character development. Bettis was given the opportunity to show off her acting range by multi-roling all the parts except for Orpheus – her turn as gatekeeper Charon was a welcome, spunky addition to an otherwise dreamy production. Both performers’ voices are beautiful and sincere, different in a good way, but sometimes caught in the throat and constricted by the small venue. When either Bettis or Kane really let rip vocally the effect is emotional and the tone powerful. So head over to C eca. And don’t look back.

Reviews by James Robert Ball

Leicester Square Theatre

De Profundis

★★★★

Another Way

★★★

Solstice

★★★

The Walls

★★★

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The Blurb

The tale of an undying love, the danger of tempting fate and how one moment can change everything. Five One Productions presents a fresh and exciting new musical adaptation of the classic Greek myth. www.five-one-productions.com

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