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Review Roundup: HADESTOWN Opens at the National Theatre!

Review Roundup: HADESTOWN Opens at the National Theatre!

Following record-breaking runs at New York Theatre Workshop and Canada's Citadel Theatre, Hadestown just opened at the National Theatre prior to Broadway.

In the warmth of summertime, songwriter Orpheus and his muse Eurydice are living it up and falling in love. But as winter approaches, reality sets in: these young dreamers can't survive on songs alone. Tempted by the promise of plenty, Eurydice is lured to the depths of industrial Hadestown. On a quest to save her, Orpheus journeys to the underworld where their trust in each other is put to a final test.

The cast includes Sharif Afifi, Reeve Carney, André De Shields, Rosie Fletcher, Amber Gray, Beth Hinton-Lever, Carly Mercedes Dyer,Eva Noblezada, Seyi Omooba, Gloria Onitiri, Patrick Page, Aiesha Pease, Joseph Prouse, Jordan Shaw and Shaq Taylor.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Rona Kelly, BroadwayWorld: Although new to the cast, Eva Noblezada feels like Eurydice incarnated. Her phrasing makes you hear the lines anew, her aching for Orpheus as heartfelt as her drive. Returning to the production, Reeve Carney delivers as a strong but not unshakeable Orpheus, delivering a show stopping 'Wait For Me' though doubts set in later.

Matt Trueman, Variety: But it's still Mitchell's music that makes "Hadestown." Infectious without trying too hard to be catchy, her songs heat up as the show heads down to hell: Carney and Noblezada's heady, sentimental duets give way to the thrusting exuberance of Gray's "Living it Up On Top" and the incessant tug of rhythmic worksongs that "keep the rustbelt rolling." Her lyrics, in particular, are ear-catchingly good, all "rivers of oblivion" and doubt that "leaves a trace of vinegar and turpentine." As "the whole damn nation" goes to hell in a handcart," "Hadestown" is sure to flame the fans.

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: With its emphasis on mood rather than action, this is the sort of show that risks being labelled portentous. But it's tightly choreographed and genuinely inventive. Sometimes operatic and sometimes bluesy, it manages to sound seductively hushed one moment and rollicking the next.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail: Mr Carney's Orpheus is a wet little Herbert but he hits his high notes impressively. Miss Noblezada is delightful until she strives for volume, when her soprano turns nasally. Amber Gray is easier on the ear as Hades' on-off consort, Persephone. The show is partly narrated by Hermes, a hammy turn from Andre De Shields. Despite a certain level of nonsense to it all, I enjoyed the show. It trots along and has a handsome swagger.

Michael Billington, The Guardian: The standout performance comes from Patrick Page who, as Hades, has a voice that seems to issue, appropriately, from the depths. He is excellently partnered by Amber Gray as a half-pissed Persephone and well supported by André de Shields as a Hermes who periodically sports the kind of fringed umbrella you'd see at a funeral in the deep south. I'm not sure if Mitchell's classical update imparts a palpable message, but her beguiling melodies linger on.

Tim Bano, The Stage: The show is so coolly self-aware. Hermes the messenger god, played sublimely by Andre De Shields, the very epitome of cool, introduces the story and the band and the characters. He's completely spellbinding, with hints of mischief and mystery. There's so much style in everything he does.

Sara Crompton, Whatsonstage: Its cleverness - and it is a phenomenally smart show - is that it takes that age-old story and makes it spark in many directions. Hades, boss of the Underworld, isn't your common or garden god, but rather a ruler who mines the minerals in the earth, offering his slave workforce 'freedom' by imprisoning them behind a wall. (The topicality of "Why We Build the Wall" has to be heard to be believed.) And Orpheus and his love aren't fey spirits, but a poor boy and hungry girl.

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut London: 'Hadestown' is not perfect, but it is really, really good. The wonderfully diverse songs of Mitchell's expanded, virtually sung-through soundtrack are the bedrock. From the demonic trombone riff that powers opener 'Road to Hell', through Hades's stentorian authoritarian anthem 'Why We Build the Wall', to the graceful encore some two-and-a-half hours later, it is a musically thrilling, lyrically eccentric articulation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth that has gratifyingly little to do with musical theatre convention.

Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks

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