Owing to Greek myth, we might expect some familiarity with the story of Orpheus. Still, The Flanagan Collective and Gobbledygook Theatre gave us some surprises in this modern take. The work comes to Melbourne from England, having toured parts of Australia and New Zealand and won awards. Advertised as including spoken word, soul music, and Bruce Springsteen, this is a much more interactive and intimate telling than we may have expected.
Here our Orpheus is Dave in the modern era – single, turning 30, having a lonely, grey life. From the end of primary school Dave was conditioned to stop trying to be himself, and to hide his quirks. Things start looking up when a glum 30 birthday night of laddish drinking and Karaoke leads to a chance meeting with Eurydice, a tree nymph. As the players advise: “Shit’s about to get Greek”.
The story moved along at a lively rate, with poetry (by Alexander Wright) delivered in a manner crisp and paced to keep our interest (unlike how Shakespeare is often presented) by Tom Figgins. This made it easy for us to absorb Dave’s world of weekday drudgery and weekend desperation to fit in. Suitably complementing his highs and lows were the tunes and emotive vocals by Phil Grainger, self-accompanied on expressive acoustic guitar.
The work balanced lively passages with some pulling on the heart strings as Dave found and lost Eurydice, and embarked on his quest into the underworld to get her back. Perhaps the compression of events had a cost of some drama on occasion; the thoughtless manner in which Dave lost Eurydice seemed quite incompatible with his nature. Yet, at times we could feel that we were part of something very special. Our performers brought the sort of charm and novelty you hope for in a Fringe festival.
This show is about Dave/Orpheus, with Eurydice making a relatively minor appearance. In what’s either a scam aimed at those hooked by this chapter or a clever pairing, you’ll get more of her story in the companion piece Eurydice by friends of the performers, at 9:30pm in the same venue.
New Council Chambers – Trades Hall, Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton
Performance: Thursday 26 September 2019 – 6:15pm
Season continues to 29 September 2019
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Orpheus (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte