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Orpheus in the Underworld
Wednesday, 14 September, 2011 | 09:00
Credit: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Scottish Opera join forces with Rory Bremner to create a new version of Jacques Offenbach’s seminal comedy, Orpheus in the Underworld. Directed by Oliver Mears, this new and very colourful production probes the depths of recent celebrity scandals to present a sensational and energetic revival of a classic play.

In Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld the once-famous musician Orpheus (Nicholas Sharratt) travels to the underworld to (grudgingly) win back his selfish wife, Eurydice (Jane Harrington) from the god of the underworld, Pluto (Gavan Ring). But a number of forces conspire against him, mainly the King of the Gods, Jupiter (Brendan Collins).

It is very fitting that Bremner, who has become synonymous with political satire, revealing social commentary and the accurate mimicry of a number of unlucky politicians, is the man tasked with bringing Offenbach’s popular comedy to the stage once more. Taking such well-worn themes as the cult of celebrity, notoriety, luxury and fortune, Orpheus in the Underworld not only pokes fun at our obsession with the rich and the famous, but also attempts to represent the values of popular public opinion.

Although a number of very current issues, such as super injunctions, scandals, bankers and affairs are alluded to, Bremner’s decision to include these themes makes them seem suddenly tired, meaningless and boring. However, sex, wanton depravity and general debauchery are introduced early in the show and remain apparent throughout, giving the play a light hearted and fun feel.

While a very entertaining production, Mears’ Orpheus in the Underworld is a timely, but somewhat clichéd foray into the cult appeal of celebrity and the affects of the financial crisis. Nevertheless it reveals the true power of Offenbach’s hilarious parody of classic Greek tragedy.

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