Friday, August 9, 2013

Fringe Festival: "Elysium Blues"

Day: 6

Show: 17

Title: Elysium Blues

By: The Barkada Theater Project

Created by: Jessica Huang

Location: U of M Rarig Center Xperimental

Summary: This modern retelling of the Greek myth about Orpheus following his love Eurydice into the underworld uses blues music to add to the story.

Highlights: This is a really cool piece, very captivating and transporting, so that leaving the theater feels a bit jarring. We're all familiar with the story - Orpheus' wife Eurydice dies so he follows her to the underworld to bring her back. But this adaptation focuses more on Eurydice and why she left in the first place - turns out Orpheus is a controlling abusive jerk. He comes into the underworld and takes over, tying up Persephone, queen of the underworld, who wants her people to forget the past (by drinking a green elixir) and be happy. But slowly, memory comes back and Eurydice makes a choice. It's kind of trippy but the music is fantastic! And the cast is great - Eric Mayson plays Orpheus as a rock star, with voice and guitar-playing skills to match; Rachel Austin has a strong and expressive bluesy voice as Eurydice; Rebecca Wall is a regal and sympathetic Persephone; and the ensemble supports them well musically and theatrically (directed by Ricardo Vazquez). Bottom line: a fascinating and successful exploration using music to shed new light on one of the oldest stories in the world. I wish I could buy the soundtrack.