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Review | The ‘eerily prescient’ ‘Hadestown’ at the National Theatre

Find out what we thought about the off-Broadway show

By Steve Brown

As Hades, in the National Theatre’s always engaging, often stunning production of Hadestown, Patrick Page has a voice so deep it seems to be coming from the very depths of hell.

Then when he sings ‘Why We Build The Wall’, an anthem to discrimination and division, he could be channelling a rather more earthbound leader with questionable methods of rule.

The song was written by Anaïs Mitchell before Trump came to power (she originally released Hadestown as a concept album in 2010 before developing it for the off-Broadway stage in collaboration with Rachel Chavkin a couple of years ago) yet it now seems eerily prescient.

The story, meanwhile, is as old as the hills. It’s the Greek myth of Orpheus’s descent into the underworld, where Hades is king, to rescue his fiancee Eurydice, only Mitchell and Chavkin have refashioned it as a jazz and folk musical with a New Orleans feel and some Westworld flavour.

Andre De Shields (the original Wiz on Broadway) is a terrific narrator, Eva Noblezada is captivating as Eurydice and Amber Gray’s Persephone oozes sexiness and attitude.

And Page’s devil doesn’t get all the best tunes; the music is brilliant throughout, as is David Neumann’s choreography.

The young-lovers tale isn’t particularly interesting and, saddled with feathered-hair and a Chesney Hawkes vibe, Reeve Carney’s Orpheus is a bit of a wet fish.

But he has a lovely falsetto and any weaknesses in plotting are overcome by the sheer inventiveness and vibrance of a show that’s hard to categorise and impossible to forget.

Rating: 4*

Hadestown is at the National Theatre until January 26th. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.

Words: Simon Button

Images by Helen Maybanks