Another brave adaptation of a Grecian classic at Noel Lothian, Orpheus - from the Flanagan Collective's Alexander Wright, sung by Phil Grainger and spoken by local recruit Vince Fusco - recasts the eponymous god-spawn as a reclusive but fairly normal bloke named Dave. Like the Neil Gaiman Sandman comic book series, the production blends the mundane and mythical together to create a world of "dive bars and side streets and ancient gods".
The production is itself incredibly entertaining. Fusco's delivery of Wright's punchy mix of spoken verse and prose is expressive and confident, while Grainger has a soulful voice and capable guitar wrangling for the mix of classic pop ballads and original compositions. The amiable duo spin a more playful rendition of the tragedy, and the jocular atmosphere suits the adaptation, with karaoke sing-alongs and occasional broad humour. Which is not to say that there aren't more sombre moments, and the pair adjust their expression and minor key accordingly, but it's largely a very upbeat show. There's a clever device of using colour blindness to depict Dave's withdrawal from the world around him, and how Eurydice literally illuminates his world with colour, but whether this duality of colour and sound works largely depends on the audience's ability to distance themselves from Virgil's original classic.
The case could also be made that Wright's adaptation undermines many of the thematic underpinnings of the tragic epic, but one can't argue with the appeal of the more upbeat interpretation. The colour blindness I felt could have been more inventively used as synaesthesia, blending Orpheus' mythical song with the device of colour, but the world they paint is still vivid and authentic if only faintly silly at moments. The conclusion felt somewhat saccharin, but it was organically written in and suits the tone of the interpretation well.
Orpheus is a rollicking good time. The approachable verse is complemented nicely by the collection of songs that echo through the reading, and both performers comfortably cultivated a jovial and friendly atmosphere that neatly covered for an accidental speaking/singing clash near the middle of the show. The adaptation may delight some and dissuade others, but it's nonetheless a courageous and entertaining reshaping of a timeless tale.