25 April 2014

Joyous Orpheus at Battersea Arts Centre


I was hoping for something a little different when I went to see Orpheus at Battersea Arts Centre and that is exactly what I got and I had a fabulous time with it.

The main theatre was divided in to two parts with the front section transformed in to a Parisienne cabaret bar in the 1930's and the rear arranged with traditional theatre seating. Some of the audience was seated in the cabaret section watching the show and the rest of us were in the theatre seats watching them and the show.

To complicate things further the cabaret act performed a musical version of the Orpheus (he of the Underworld fame) so we had a story within an act within a bar within a theatre.

The final complication were the intervals. There was an interval in the theatre when everything stopped and also an interval in the act where the musicians carried on playing and some of the audience in the bar started dancing.

It was all a little weird but it was also very original and it worked superbly.

The cabaret was hugely entertaining with all the musicians playing and acting with gusto. It was all nicely over the top to properly capture the mood of the cabaret. The performance was packed with neat touches such as the minimalist props used to indicate the woodland animals at the start of Orpheus' story.

It was light without being frivolous and there were some scenes of heavy drama too, such as Orpheus' climb out of the Underworld to the accompaniment of pounding drums.

I never knew that a Greek tragedy could be so much fun.

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