A prophet who was skilled in both art and poetry, the story of Orpheus is one of the most frequently told Greek myths throughout western culture, be that in art, opera, music or theatre. That said, Little Bulb Theatre’s production of Orpheus sheds new light on the tale and is ensured to continuously surprise.

Many different versions of the tale of Orpheus have been told, but the company decided to use Ovid’s Metamorphosis as their starting point. The basic plot points are that Orpheus and Eurydice marry, a snake promptly bites the bride and, in order to save his beloved, Orpheus ventures down to the underworld. It is a tale of love and the inherent flaws of humanity.

Within the framework of an evening at a 1930s Parisian cabaret, French singer and host Yvette Pepin (Eugenie Pastor) and legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt (Dominic Conway) take on the roles of Orpheus and Eurydice. Their portrayals of the characters are exaggerated and yet sensitive, supported by ‘The Triplettes de L’antique’ who act as a Greek chorus of sorts. Mary Drummond’s set and costume perfectly contrast 1930s French glamour with the scruffy, pantomime-esque portrayal of the story. The talented and charmingly charismatic house band flit between performing music and joining in with the tale of Orpheus, whether that be as animals, Parisians or monsters of the underworld. Every actor within the piece is as hilarious and energetic as the next, leaving you spoiled for choice on who to watch at any given moment.

As the emotion changes throughout the piece, so do the genres of music, including styles such as French chanson, jazz and opera. Within the exploration of Orpheus, the show pays tribute to artists that have come before and references stories, sonnets and operas. As well as this, the production includes original compositions by the company and celebrates the life and works of musician Django Reinhardt.

Little Bulb Theatre are known for their use of physical theatre within experimental projects and this is one of the most captivating parts of the piece. It is surprising how emotive a piece can be when it is mostly mime. With just the use of physicality, music and costume, we are emotionally invested in the characters that guide us through moments of joy, sadness and silliness.

Be prepared for a piece of theatre that exudes hilarity, charm and is tremendously entertaining from the outset.

Orpheus played at the Royal Opera House until 19 September. For more information and tickets, see the Royal Opera House website. Photo: ROH