Last night I went with some weasels to see Hadestown. It was written by the wonderful singer/song writer Anais Mitchell. She has a webpage here, if you’re interested.
Hadestown is a new version of the story of Orpheus in the underworld as he tries to bring back his love, Euridice. Anais has set it in a post-apocalyptic world of depression, where Hades entices people to join his town (Hadestown) and build walls to keep the ‘enemy’ out while keeping them in under his rule. Once you enter Hadestown, you can never leave.
Euridice is tempted in and joins the community but Orpheus decides to try and save her. He enlists the help of Hermes who tells him how to enter the town via the back door. Once in, Orpheus tries to find Euridice. His beautiful songs come to the attention of Hades and his wife, Persephone who convinces her husband to allow Euridice to leave with Orpheus.
Hades agrees but only on one condition. Orpheus is to walk out of Hadestown and Euridice will follow as long as Orpheus does not look back. Orpheus is doing really well but then, just before he leaves, doubt takes over and he turns around. Euridice is lost to him forever. Oh, he of little faith!
The performance last night was at the Union Chapel in Islington. Quite an amazing venue, very well suited to the performance. The trouble was, there was also an Arsenal home game on at the same time. This meant that the Tube was full of people in red and white scarves. We were all to meet at The Swan Inn but this was heaving with gooners, so, after texting each other, we met at the venue.
It was oddly ironic that we were going to a performance about and based in hades while we had to walk through, what some would describe as, hell. It was quite marked when it came time to go home. The tube train we were in had a combination of folk music lovers chatting enthusiastically (or not in one case I overheard) about Anais and Hadestown while others stood around in their team colours, grunting and swearing. I’m not just saying that for effect! It WAS the case.
Anyway, the performance started off with Wallis Bird, a fabulous Irish folk singer who is a dab hand at the guitar. She writes and performs everything herself. Very self effacing and very talented. She has a website here. I liked her so much I bought her album Spoons. Mirinda listened to it tonight and loves it too. We are Wallis fans. Seriously!
Having warmed us up, Wallis was replaced with Anais and her group of folk celebs none of whom I’ve ever heard of. The band played behind and the singers sat in front. They would stand up as their turn to sing approached. There was a storyteller who made a few contributions in order to keep the audience on track. It was a very good idea.
Apart from one little thing, it was a fantastic night of very talented people. Another was Thea Gilmore who played Persephone. You can read about her here as well as listen to a track of hers. I am very tempted to list the entire cast…except I don’t know who they were…but I’ll just mention one other. The guy who played Orpheus was wonderful. His name is Jim Moray, and, naturally, he has a website too. It’s here.
I could type on and on and on…however, I’m going to leave it there. It was a great night all round with a long trip home at the end. A big thank you to Dawn for parking at Farnham so I’d have someone to talk to on the train.
There wasn’t really a lot of opportunity for weasel photography given the rush before and after but I did manage a shot of the venue.
Arsenal won by the way. And the one thing not so good about the show? We had to sit on pews. Super, typical, bloody uncomfortable pews! Had I known, I’d have bought a big fat cushion. Actually I could have done with a big fat cushion to get over the big fat head sat in front of me all night!