REVIEW: HADESTOWN (Walter Kerr Theatre) ★★★★★

Hadestown,  an acclaimed new musical by celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and innovative director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) is a love story for today… and always. The show has opened on Broadway after a run at Londons National Theatre – bringing with it most of the cast including West End and Broadway star Eva Noblezada.

Hadestown intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites you on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers and singers, Hadestown is a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go.

The set design is misleadingly simple, at first glance not much more than a wooden stage but as the show begins, an incredibly complex revolving stage is revealed which brings the story to life. The music is infectious, from gospel, to jazz, indie-rock and everything in-between making there something for everyone.

Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney play Orpheus and Eurydice perfectly. Their love story is believable and their end devastating. Eva Noblezada shines once again in this show, with a sweet vulnerability and Reeve Carney has a hauntingly beautiful voice. Our other couple Hades and Persephone (Patrick Page and at the performance I saw Afra Hines) are great – Afra Hines‘s voice leaving my jaw on the floor with an Amy Winehouse-esq sound. Special mention must be given to the ‘Fates’ – three mythological goddesses who are the backing singers to the entire show.

Hadestown is an exquisitely well polished piece of story telling, which accounts the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice to a folky, jazz soundtrack of music performed live on stage. The interpretation of the classical mythologic story was sublime, although would have been difficult to follow perhaps if you went in to the show not knowing the stories behind the mythological themes. Thankfully I had been given a brief summary of the story beforehand but I feel if I hadn’t I would have struggled. During the interval I quickly studied the historical story online which made the second act much easier to follow. This was not a bad thing, as it encouraged me to learn the story because I was invested in the show.

Hadestown isn’t a bubblegum show that you can dip in and out of mentally. It requires commitment and full attention but if you can give it that, you will reap the rewards.

Reviewed by West End Wilma


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