Jul. 21st, 2016

starlady: Holmes and Watson walking around New York (springtime in new york)
A month ago when I was in New York I went to see Hadestown at the New York Theater Workshop. It's an expansion of a folk opera of the same name by Anaïs Mitchell, which I've never heard and which I'm given to understand is different in a lot of ways, particularly in the addition of Hermes to the cast who retell the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, including Hades, Persephone, and the Fates. "it's an old story, but we're gonna tell it again," Hermes says at the start, and it's a tribute to the power of this version that I honestly did hope against hope, despite everything, that maybe this time Orpheus would get it right and succeed in bringing Eurydice back to life.

The production is great and the cast is stellar, particularly Patrick Page, who is frankly terrifying but also completely magnetic as Hades. Everyone in the cast is frankly amazing at bringing the gods to life, and though Orpheus and Eurydice are younger and less experienced, they are portrayed in no less accomplished a manner. The semi-immersive staging just makes it easier to get caught up in the story, which is told in a kind of 30s Dust Bowl/New Orleans jazz Americana style which doesn't sound like it should work but totally does, and the show also has no fear about making contemporary political statements, which are most obvious in the song that could be about Trump, "Why We Build the Wall." The performance also leads hard and brilliantly on the particular power of the Greek conception of the gods, which is to say that they are both metaphors and examples of the forces they represent. And though the story is ostensibly that of Orpheus and Eurydice, the complicated, bittersweet marriage of Hades and Persephone is just as important to the plot, and frankly even more engrossing on some levels; we know how the former story ends, but the other is less clear. The costuming is brilliant too; we particularly loved the Fates, who carry their respective tools of the trade--scissors, a ruler, and thread--on their persons in the manner of weaponry and sing in harmonies that recall the Pointer Sisters. I can't wait for the cast album to be released next year.