The second episode of Talking Gods from Arrows & Traps Theatre, tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Written and directed by Ross McGregor, this is a modern retelling of a tragic love story of one man for himself and the woman he spends his life with.
We are reminded that the Greek Gods are alive and well in our world, and then we meet Eurydice (Charlie Ryall) who tells us that her relationship with Orpheus (Christopher Neels) has left her a shadow of her former self. Blue lighting creates sharp shadows which emphasise the mood as she walks us through a depressive state where tiredness never abates and then we see Orpheus himself, sitting a few feet in front of her. They are on a train and, of course, he isn’t allowed to turn around and look at her.
Orpheus is a rock star with a tendency to wear over the top military clothing, ill-fitting suits and copious amounts of eyeliner. Worshipped by all who hear his music, Eurydice met him in a student bar nine years ago. At the time she was studying agriculture and he was studying medicine, but his real passion was always music and what Eurydice intended to be a one night stand quickly turns into a serious relationship after Orpheus names her his muse.
Snippets of Orpheus’ music videos (with vocals by Sam Morgan-Grahame) show us how Orpheus is seen by the world. Throughout the piece, Orpheus is kept at arm’s length and we only see him from the public’s point of view and through Eurydice’s eyes, which is interesting as, as Eurydice points out, this is his story which she has always lived within, mostly unseen. There are some excellent songs, with a particularly haunting, slowed down version of Addicted to Love, and these are supported by some brilliant visuals.
As Eurydice gets swept away by Orpheus and their relationship, her dreams of saving the planet seem to become more and more remote. A gentle nod to Jane Eyre takes them into married life at which point the footage starts rolling and blurring, showing that not everything has turned out how either of them hoped it would.
As the story progresses, it links back to the previous episode telling Persephone’s story, and when things come to a head Persephone (Nicolle Smartt) makes another appearance. Both Ryall and Neels’ performances are excellent as they navigate their passionate and tumultuous relationship. Together with Morgan-Grahame’s vocals emphasising the emotional state of their lives, this is an excellent piece of online theatre which both complements and contrasts with the first episode.
This dramatic and heart-breaking show brings us back to the environmental concerns explored in the first episode and also laments the current state of the arts and the economy. Mesmerising as Ryall leads us along a path where you know disaster awaits, much like Orpheus, you cannot tear your eyes away from her hypnotic and compelling presence. A poignant reminder that fixing things won’t happen for us if we just go along as we have been, Orpheus’ songs are easy to watch and get lost in, but it’s important not to remember to lose yourself along the way.
Talking Gods II: Orpheus is available to watch here https://www.arrowsandtraps.com/talkinggods
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 6th April 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★