Director Rachel Chavkin and singer/songwriter Anaïs Mitchell transform the story of Orpheus and Eurdice into a bold, drastically different folk opera. Hadestown opened to record-breaking success in its development stages and early runs at New York Theatre Workshop and Canada's Citadel Theatre. Now the show comes to London's National Theatre ahead of a 2019 Broadway run.
Critics enthused about a 'beguiling' show that 'reanimates a well known myth', but many also noted the disparity between drama and music in the quest to be 'self-consciously new'. Audiences seemed undeterred and the early versions Hadestown generated quite the buzz ahead of its London premiere.
Based on Anaïs Mitchell's 2010 concept album of the same name, it's a heady mixture of jazz, folk, blues and swing. It relocates the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to post-apocalyptic Depression-era America. Instead of Mount Olympus, the drama is set in New Orleans.
In a feminist twist, the story is told from Eurydice's perspective. She falls for songwriter Orpheus, but the lovers cannot survive on music alone. Seduced by the prospect of wealth and bounty, Eurydice ventures into hellish Hadestown. When Orpheus follows into to the underworld to save her, their love is given the ultimate test.
Director Rachel Chavkin has a reputation for shows that smash through the fourth wall and the early productions of Hadestown involved an on stage orchestra, in the round seating and performers venturing out among the audience. It will be interesting to see whether such intimacy and immersion can be created on the vast Olivier stage.
Either way, Hadestown is one of the most interesting and innovative musical theatre prospect since Hamilton. So it's worth booking early, before it hot foots it to Broadway next year.
|What||Hadestown, National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
02 Nov 18 – 26 Jan 19, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£15 - £65|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|