The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review

By Jenny Sandman

My love is larger than a keening lament. /i> ---Orpheus
Here, nothing ever really changes.---Persephone
Taylor Mac and Daphne Gaines in Orpheus
Taylor Mac and Daphne Gaines (Photo: Carl Skutsch)
The Greeks take an ultra hip turn in HERE's latest, Orpheus. In this version, Orpheus is a rock star, lead singer of Orpheus and the Fly Boys. His bride, Eurydice, a famous ornithologist, is killed on their wedding day by a yellow cab. The grief-stricken, he journeys to the underworld--here, Club Asphodel, run by Persephone--to get her back. He must persuade Persephone to let her go, and as he does, his music goes to a place it never has before. Persephone warns him that if Eurydice returns, his music will never be the same again, and neither will Euridice. As Persephone says, " She is a wisp, a skein unraveled…a being torn between two places." If Orpheus stays, he'll forget everything, as Eurydice has. Persephone finally relents, on the condition that Orpheus not look back. And--well, you know the rest.

It seems HERE will go to all lengths to make the evening a memorable one -- and it is. The show is sort of a very solemn cross between The Donkey Show and Cirque du Soleil You ou are presented with a small coin and a tiny honey cake in lieu of a ticket which you hand to a heavily tattooed Goth gentleman with Cerberus emblazoned across his t-shirt. The theatre, which has been remade into a posh nightclub with pseudo-modern furniture, a steel bar, and black walls. Each table sports six pomegranate seeds and strangely dressed creatures offer drinks (one free drink per ticket courtesy of Boru vodka) and other, more disreputable services. It's a gimmicky setup but it fits the nightclub motif. The cocktail waitresses who wear heavily feathered, vaguely S&M, Gaultier-inspired costumes; become the Sirens or backup singers to Persephone. Her shades (Tantalus and others), also in extraordinary costumes, hold court around her, occasionally moving in to become part of the story, at other times hanging back to blend in with the scenery. At key moments flickering home videos are projected to visualize memores of what has been lost. Orpheus (Taylor Mac) and Persephone (Daphne Gaines) have powerhouse voices and sing their hearts out as Eurydice (Leeanne Hutchison) shimmers in the background.

This Orpheus is almost a rock opera, yet it's not quite rock. The live band plays vaguely Mediterranean music, a mix of Balkan, Greek, Texan and rock sounds. Thes faintly exotic melodies make for a most unusual soundscape. As befits the underworld, the songs are lamentations, full of keening and pain. The ensemble dynamic is very strong, and Mac and Gaines have an interesting and mesmeric chemistry. The set design (David Evans Morris) uses the entire space in a very creative way, and the costumes (Liz Bourgeois) are innovatively bewitching, revealing more about the characters than the songs do.

This is an ingenious retelling of an old myth, and it manages be a "New York moment" with its settings, first date kisses on Bow Bridge, eating at One if by Land and snacking at Katz's and the San Gennaro festival. It all adds up to a wonderfully self-referential, cynical "it could only happen in New York" show.

Conceived by Juliet Chia, Kristin Marting and David Evans Morris
Written by Stephanie Fleishmann
Music Composed by Nikos Brisco
Directed by Kristin Marting
With Taylor Mac, Daphne Gaines, Katy Cunningham, Nina Mankin, Arie Thompson, Scott Blumenthal, Kim Carpenter, Raquel Cion, James Tigger! Ferguson, Leeanne Hutchison, Corey Moosa, Dax Valdes, Rachel Crawford and Tim Pickerill
Costume Design by Liz Bourgeois
Light Design by Juliet Chia
Set Design by David Evans Morris
Video by James Scruggs
Running time: One hour and thirty minutes with no intermission
HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Avenue; 212-868-4444
September 15th through October 9th; Wednesday through Saturday at 9 pm. All tickets $15
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on September 22nd performance
Tales From Shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2004, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from