Hadestown has blown into the National Theatre with all the force of the railroad train referenced in the show itself. The Olivier Theatre has been transformed into a New Orleans speak-easy with extraordinary detail, even down to the long cast shadows and stagnant smoke gathering in the ceiling. The scene is completed by its own soft-shoeing MD, Hermes (Andre de Shields) who guides the narrative.
This new production by Anaïs Mitchell pairs together Greek gods and mythology with the less glamorous side of the Jazz era in America and reimagines the tragedy of Orpheus (Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) in this new setting. Mitchell creates a stark symmetry between the socio-economic challenges faced by Eurydice and shared by many today and the temptation and desperate need to obtain security whatever the cost. As is so pertinently put by the Andrews sisters come Street Urchins from Little Shop of Horrors’-style Fates, “You can have your principles, When you have a bellyful”.
This cast is strong across the board, performances of particular note from Amber Gray’s vibrant Persephone, who has been with the production since its first iterations, and Noblezada who creates a painfully relatable Eurydice when facing her impossible choices. Carney’s Orpheus has hints of a young Bob Dylan as idealistic young wandering artist. Special mention must go to the exceptionally powerful use of the Chorus, similar to its use in original Greek Tragedies, who are constantly involved and engaged with the action, both physically and vocally to both challenge and reiterate the themes of protagonists and storylines.
This production sounds as good as it looks and is well worth a glance — even at the risk of being snatched back into the underworld/Broadway.