For a play which takes on Orpheus and The Trial as its inspiration, The Orpheus Project is a confused play which really doesn’t know what it wants to be. The dystopian tone of the piece is thrown off constantly by some misplaced ironic comedy and never quite reaches its potential. Despite the multi-media nature of the performance, incorporating physical theatre and dance, it still falls flat.
The concept of two-interlinking lives, a rockstar and a nobody brought together by a femme fatale, is an interesting one and could lead to an intricate plotline. However, the script is far too crude to achieve any intricacy. The dialogue of constant exposition killed any tension within the play. There were some fascinating ideas, such as the virtual reality machine being used as a form of escapism. The explanation of this machine, instead of it being introduced subtly later in the plot, meant it was easily discarded a scene or two later. Similarly, the way the lovers’ relations is dragged out at the beginning of the dialogue felt done for the sake of aiding a plot later, rather than serving any real purpose at the time.
The actors are fine and admirably multi-role throughout, but there is no sympathy invoked for any of the characters. Eliyah is a poorly written female role, to the extent that the audience had no idea what her motivation was. Rather, she seemed to be used to bring in conflict. She gives a speech on the empowerment of Beyonce before stating “I’m not a feminist”, and seems to both love her partner and not care for him at all.
The introduction of news bulletins to help convey plot points was well conceived, but badly executed. The VTs between scenes did not feel professional at all, and instead came across as jerky and as if made on a powerpoint programme. The lack of slickness to them undermined the strict, totalitarian government they were meant to be portraying.
Another downside was the out of place comedy. Whilst the misfortunes of Kasper J could be told in a mocking tone, the decision to make this narration sickly sweet came across as an attempt at this tone of comedy, which never quite hit the mark. The officer’s overly familiar attitude toward Kasper was also a bad move, as she became marked more as a Mrs Potts character than somebody to be feared.
The physical theatre and dance in this performance is slick, impressive and showed chemistry between Eliyah and Johnny, which otherwise was absent from the piece. Their carnal energy was incredibly gripping- it’s just a shame the same can’t be said for the script. 2/5
Review written by Louise Jones.
Working Title: The Orpheus Project is currently showing at C Venues as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Monday 25th August. For more information on the production, visit here…