Written by Max Barton
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
For those unfamiliar, it all started Once Upon A Time…
Orpheus & Eurydice fell passionately in love, her for her beauty, she for his ability with a lyre – everyone loves a musician. As with Greek tales, tragedy strikes as Eurydice passes into the Underworld. Determined to reclaim her, Orpheus battles towards Hades, who offers them a deal; she may return to the surface so long as Orpheus doesn’t look back at her. So, what’s the first thing he does? Well, sometimes we can’t help but look back.
Shackling ourselves to a chain of memories, they define us more than other cognitive features. We build our memories from little, filling the gaps as we require. What then happens if these pieces fragment so considerably, we struggle to construct any form of recollection?
STYX, an award-winning theatre-concert centring on family, mythos and memory collide. Drawing its name from the river Orpheus would cross to find Eurydice, an underflow of parallels come to the surface of this ancient tale and family legacy.
In an attempt to rebuild the stories of his Grandfather, Max Barton keeps records of conversations with his Grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. Accompanying the audio are live interludes of superb music, spanning a series of genres but with a distinct vaudeville aura and pronounced vocals.
Illuminating the band, solitary Edison bulbs cast a nostalgic glow which flickers intermittently, a reflection of the dull sparks as we attempt to remember. A central bulb echoes the words of Barton’s Grandmother, an earthly demeanour, her voice is soothing and warming as we gain a tremendous amount of her presence.
It’s the breed of production that, when you finish, you’ll have the urge to call someone, anyone you care about. A love letter to music, as much to family – STYX changes the fable and encourages us all to look back.
Runs until 17 August 2019 | Image: Contributed