Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Bradley King. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Bradley King. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday 22 February 2024

Hadestown at the Lyric Theatre REVIEW: A Soul-Stirring Journey to the Depths of Hell

Lyric Theatre

There are musicals that touch your soul and for me that’s Hadestown. I first saw the show in 2018, where I went in completely blind and came out gob smacked and awed. Tonight after the official West End opening night, I feel equally awed as well as inspired, moved, astounded, heartbroken and overjoyed. There really aren’t adjectives to describe how heartfelt and special this show is. Not only is it a piece of fantastic quality theatre but it’s also a poem, a concert, a celebration of life and humanity, an ode to music and above all, a love story.

Hadestown tells the tale of young Orpheus and Eurydice as their tales intertwine. It's a musical retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the duo and follows the journey of Orpheus as he descends into the underworld, determined to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the clutches of the charismatic but menacing Hades. Despite the various iterations and productions this musical has gone through, one constant is how scarily relevant the themes it explores feel in our modern world. Hades, ruler of the underworld and the mines, ostensibly grants "freedom" through employment while simultaneously confining his subjects behind a barrier. Why We Build The Wall is certainly one of the most pertinent songs of the production, its relevance hits all too close to home in the current world.

The musical borders the line between acting as "the world we live in, and the one we dream about", in thanks part to Rachel Hauck's set. Scaled down slightly from the National Theatre production, it still evokes Depression-era vibes and cleverly frames the story. Bradley King's lighting literally highlights some of the most astounding moments of the show, especially during Hades' peak moments, as well as casting shadows to create an almost cinematic feel; overall it's just an incredibly cohesive show that has a vibe and aesthetic that matches it so well.

This undefined world is perhaps best showcased by Anaïs Mitchell's incredible score which combines so many styles a creates such special storytelling. The intricate lyrics allow layers upon layers of emotions to form as Anaïs weaves a musical tapestry that is charming and delightful at times, but gritty and painful at others. Mitchell has truly crafted a musical masterpiece that transcends time and genre and creates a theatrical experience like no other.

Director Rachel Chavkin has meticulously pored over each performer, set element, musician, and lighting effect to craft a production that leaves us suspended between despair and hope. This version of the show also feels perfectly tweaked for the West End, with the use of the performer’s natural accents making the whole thing feel very real and grounded, an inspired change! David Neumann's precise choreography fits seamlessly with the revolving stage, continually moving between frenetic energy and poignant stillness that works so well. This is a piece which is so reliant on balance, the balance between good and bad, love and hate, light and dark, loud and quiet, beauty and pain, among others, and the entire cast and creative team have perfectly understood and managed this balance to form a musical that leaves you not quite sure what emotion you're experiencing, but 100% sure you experienced something special.

At it's core this is a story about people, and the people who lead it are wonderful. As the headstrong Eurydice, Grace Hodgett Young is everything you could ask for in a leading lady, her calm is as strong as her passion and she fills every moment with charisma. There’s often mention of “stage presence” but it’s rare you see the phrase as outwardly displayed as with Grace who commands even the smallest of moments. Of course she’s also vocally dreamy, showcasing all layers of her voice and perfectly bringing the vocal grit that’s so necessary for the role. Her easy swagger and playfulness is a perfect balance to Orepheus' more nervous persona. Taking on the role of this heartstrong counterpart, Donal Finn is delightfully whimsical and charming. Donal's Orpheus truly comes into his own during act two when his passion for his partner and also his music are on full display and his voice becomes a beacon of hope cutting through the darkness of despair. It's utterly heartbreaking when we reach the expected conclusion, a testament to the emotion the cast pour out to get us to that point.

As the enigmatic Hermes, Melanie La Barrie is all parts wonderful, her presence commanding the stage with every word and gesture and bringing humour and gravitas in equal measure. Her performance weaves together the threads of myth and legend with an all knowing wisdom that seems to transcend time, she truly gives everything on stage and is a marvel to behold.

Hadestown is more than a musical—it's an experience, a testament to the enduring power of art to touch the very depths of our souls. It's a rare gem that shines brightly in the landscape of contemporary theatre, a reminder that sometimes, even in the darkest of times, there is still beauty to be found.

In the hallowed halls of the Lyric Theatre, you can bear witness to something truly extraordinary. Hadestown is a triumph in every sense of the word and it needs to be seen.

Reviewed on Wednesday 21st February 2024 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Thursday 1 March 2018

Pippin, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Wednesday 28th February 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

Based on the real-life story of Prince Pepin and his father, King Charlemagne, Pippin tells the story of a young prince who longs to find adventure, fulfilment and passion in his life. To prove himself to his distracted father, Pippin goes to war. He finds no fulfilment there so when the Leading Player convinces him to fight tyranny, Pippins kills his father and takes over the throne. 

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by Roger O Hirson and original direction by Bob Fosse, Pippin brings spectacle, comedy and whimsy to the transformed Southwark Playhouse. Maeve Black's set complete with a false proscenium and footlight bulbs around the tongue of the stage, has transformed The Large into a magical, slightly decrepit playground of mystery.

Braving the snow, I enjoyed this production despite feeling it took a little while to get into. The story is fast paced and full of intricacies but the varying styles and scenes are a bit too much of a mish-mash to be fully cohesive.

However, the performances are stellar across the board. Genevieve Nicholas is absolutely outstanding as the Leading Player. Poised to pounce and vocally faultless she commands the stage every second she's on it. She is very dynamic alongside Jonathan Carlton in the title role who sings the role perfectly as well as having great comic timing and stage presence. The two bounce off one another and have a sort of unsettling relationship.

Mention must also go to Bradley Judge as Lewis, Pippin's brother, and Mairi Barclay as Fastrada and Berthe who both nailed the comedic side as well as providing some scene stealing vocal moments. As director, Jonathan O'Boyle has done a wonderful job of bringing the small cast together to create something electric and well as showcasing individual talents.

Choreographer William Whelton has stuck to the shows iconic past, with Bob Fosse's choreography central to the action but has brought a somewhat modern twist with some sharp, almost frantic movements at times.

Whilst the jumpiness of the book does let this show down at times, this production is like nothing else I've seen on a London stage recently and for that reason it must be applauded. The cast do an outstanding job and the razzle-dazzle of the costumes and in-your-face lights by Aaron J. Dootson do a wonderful job of wowing the audience.

For a magical, mystical, whimsical show that will surprise, make sure you get along to the Southwark Playhouse for the limited run of Pippin.

photo credit: Pamela Raith