Fringe Online 2021
Written and Directed by Ross McGregor for Arrows & Traps, Talking Gods Company
Producer Chris Tester
Orpheus Musical Director /Arranger Richard Baker
Camera Operators Lucy Ioannou and Laurel Marks
Editor Andrew Flynn
Lighting Designer / Stage Manager Laurel Marks
Make-Up and Costume Lucy Ioannou
Additional Videography and Music Videos Lucy Ioannou
Movement Consultant Will Pinchin
Artwork Design SketchaSticki Studio
Technical Consultant Gianluca Zona
Richard Reed, Beatrice Vincent, Christopher Tester, Remy Moynes, Ross McGregor, Cameron Crawford, Emelia East, Saoirse Kelly, Laurel Marks
Performances permanently available. Arrows & Taps are grateful to the Arts Council, and ask for donations
Unlife, the silent world, where there’s no language. No they’ve just come out of a long tunnel. Know when people say you’re a shadow of yourself? Charlie Ryall’s Eurydice talks to us as she’s pulling out of Brighton, ten stops to go.
With Christopher Neels’ Orpheus in the passenger seat in front. Obviously. The one near Preston Park where usually your signals die. Ryall’s often lit in turquoise, as if she’s dipped into another world from the start, save for a few reddish moments.
Like the moment Orpheus steals your makeup but goodness if he doesn’t look better than you. Sam Morgan-Grahame’s Orpheus Vocals break in and out, impressively.
Ryall’s Eurydice is sassy, wryly sophisticated, posh, streetwise, knows what she doesn’t want in a man with plenty of previous. With names like Elliott Oscar and Gabriel, Will but never a Bill, whom she snobbily feels could make silent love to you like stoking a fire, pick up tampons without being asked and unblock your sink
So what’s the big O’s charm? Well he can multi-O as he’s a demi-god. But Eurydice? She’s so much sharper than him. Neels’ Orpheus is the epitome of entitled: charming, self-absorbed, magical.
Welcome to writer/director Ross McGregor’s series of five 75-85 minute plays with The Arrows & Traps company, returning for Orpheus, the second. The company were about to embark on this series, then third lockdown came.
It’s a superb recasting of myth. And screamingly funny even by this series’ standards. There’s stunningly gimletted visuals that never draw attention to themselves but edge the narrative.
So after thousands of years the Gods live among us and have their own Instagram accounts. Where clutches of gods tell their stories. Before they’re forgotten and fade. They have no choice, no free will. That’s their distinct fate. Watch them writhe.
Watching Ryall’s Nymph Eurydice writhe in an ironic Valkyrie helmet giving tips on landing a man – a masked one too – means there’s only one thing: chips. At least he’s not a battery lover in a drawer, a takeway maybe. This one comes with a mansion and his own power supply.
With Eurydice’s imminent double first in agriculture there’s only one thing to do with Orpheus after. Even if he has to be yanked off a keyboard to give her a top C. First time with a nymph and he wants to get up and write a banger of a song.
After a year Eurydice’s postgrad and O’s dropped out of med school to pursue music. Needs a muse.
But swapping fertiliser MA deadlines for synonyms for her own hair? Muse as Editor? Rewriter… writer? Woken at 3am to see him move rocks with his singing when there’s a lecture due… He can charm dogs in the street, wakes the street with it. Send Eurydice’s parents to sleep at the lunch table so they fall face-down…. Dear viewer, I married him.
Neels is funny – jobless, entitlement boy talks of fighting capitalism – though truly stars as singer. Ryall’s increasingly discordant notes pull tonally into marital rows.
Like make it up, go to a zoo without money, screw up Eurydice’s job chances when paradoxically Neels’ O finally makes it on a tour with Jason and the Argonauts NY. With groupies. Sirens in fact.
Ryall almost breaks the fourth wall, talks her turquoise blue spectrally-lit head in the lengthy monologue. Generation Rent, hopeless abandonment – doesn’t see O sends anything back, given Eurydice’s longing looks at the Whiskas catfood. It’s not even funny any more.
But life in an eco-charity call centre for African development run by Demeter – each of these five plays returns the previous shows’ gods in some form – it’s not what’s meant. And when O returns. Problem is, apart from the sirens, his songs are her stolen life. You’d not believe what No. 1 is about.
And you long for her to well – get out. Careful what you wish for. Remember the zoo? Eurydice has. After all, O charms animals. Can Eurydice?
Rilke wrote a poem ‘Eurydice’, where Eurydice doesn’t want to return. With the focus so much on Ryall’s wryly nuanced, bitterly eloquent Eurydice you rather feel this should be retitled too, whatever Eurydice decides. It’s her play. Ryall’s consummate and Neels matches her in oblivious self-regard with Orpheus’ ounce of gold in the throat and a vacuum six inches above it.
And we meet some previous characters… becoming a shadow of your former self can be a delight. Until.
Nicolle Smartt reappears briefly, pithily as Persephone.
MacGregor’s narratives are hugely inventive. There’s strong competition too, from Jermyn Street’s wonderful versions from Ovid – 15 Heroines – written by fifteen writers and produced by three house teams. Lockdown’s unseamed a terrific reinvention, bringing gods and heroines up from the death of myth to an altered world. Don’t miss these.