Orpheus top 

Orpheus

Birmingham Rep Studio

*****

IT’S not often that a theatre company are capable of fully transporting you into another era but The Little Bulb Theatre company have created something of a time machine with their production of Orpheus and this tragic love story of his journey into the underworld.

This feat is achieved by recreating the entertaining atmosphere of a musical evening, set in a 1920s Parisian café. In between some of the resident’s performer’s musical numbers, they find time for a musical play based on the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

It’s a remarkable achievement with moments of genuine Parisian authenticity, vaudeville comedy and high drama. Even though the play is hammed up to its melodramatic extremes, Little Bulb still succeeds in creating real empathy in the telling of their story. 

This Parisian café also has a special guest with the inclorpheus and Eurydiceusion of the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhart. He is asked to play out the part of Orpheus in the establishments show and it’s quite a star billing for the staff, especially the ladies who are enamoured by his famous presence.

Yvette Pepin is the cafes welcoming host slipping effortlessly between renditions of Edith Piaf’s songs, introducing the performances, flute solos and playing the role of Eurydice. This role was delivered effortlessly by Eugenie Pastor, creating a quite lovable and manic character in Yvette complete with made up eyebrows that would outperform most other actors alone.

Dominic Conway who played Django and Orpheus and Yvette Pepin, the flute-playing, Edith Piaf-singing lover, Eurydice. Pictures: James Allan

Dominic Conway was Django delivering some fantastic guitar work throughout the evening and striding around gesturing like a matador yet never speaking a word whilst playing the role of Orpheus.

The trio of Clare Beresford on Double bass, Miriam Gould on Violin and Shamira Turner on accordion were the ladies of the clubs resident band and also many of the plays other characters. Alongside their musical talent they added some beautiful harmony with their singing in the Orpheus story.

Tom Penn on percussion and Alexander Scott on clarinet, who directed, both also engage in a multitude of other roles. Finally Charlie Penn played piano and at one point delivered a delightful performance of Debussy’s Clair de Lune making the fated lover’s first meeting hard to watch in the centre of the stage as he was in full view and perfect fully matched his playing to the live action throughout the night.

Orpheus is a delightfully rich, varied and engaging piece of theatre and it as it was written and devised by the company it fully employs the outstanding skillset of this inventive and very original company. This co-production with Battersea Arts Centre is a journey well worth taking and adds yet another quality milestone to this young company’s highly acclaimed development. To 31-10-15.

Jeff Grant

29-10-15 

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