Hadestown tells the story of Orpheus trying to rescue his love Euridice from Hades' clutches in the Underworld.

This cast is made up of some amazing performers: Dónal Finn is gorgeously charming as Orpheus, embracing the naivety of this poet dreamer, and digging into the devastating heartbreak required to tell this character's story well. His counterpart, Grace Hodgett Young, is vocally perfection, though this particular interpretation of Euridice lacks depth and doesn't often feel truthful. As such, the chemistry between the two suffers (with the exception of a spectacularly choreographed first kiss) and we long for greater investment in this romance and their respective fates. 

Narrator and guide, the role of Hermes is a challenge to cast; fortunately, Melanie La Barrie approaches it as if it were simply her life's purpose! An exceptional talent, she commands the stage and the audience with a completely hypnotic performance from start to finish. Her energy is always exactly what is required of each moment, and she navigates the complex balance of omniscient storyteller with her own emotional journey beautifully. 

Speaking of beautiful emotions and energy, Gloria Onitiri is EVERYTHING we could wish for as Persephone - she lights up the stage with fire whenever she steps forward and gives astonishing vocals alongside the most stunning characterisation. No notes. 

Zachary James' Hades is a far cry from what one might expect if they're familiar with the original cast, certainly leaning into the showmanship and magnetism rather than sheer intimidating prowess of the Lord of the Underworld. However, James really makes the role his own and sits comfortably in this interesting interpretation. Though we long for more of his bassy rumble, and some of the shifts up octaves from the original are a little jarring, overall his performance is deeply charismatic and alluring (including a magnificent rendition of 'Why We Build the Wall') and his electric chemistry with Onitiri pervades the entire auditorium. 

The small ensemble are brilliant, giving everything to each moment, and the Fates offer other-worldly vocals which transcend this plane. However, there does seem to be a missing synchronicity within the feisty trio themselves and in general we want a more obvious presence of the Fates throughout. 

Somehow, amongst this stage littered with outrageous talent, it is truly the band (directed by Tarek Merchant) that brings this show to new levels of awe-inspiring delight! As much cast members as those aforementioned, these unbelievably skilled musicians play with the audience and pierce our very souls with their toe-tapping jazz. 
The production itself is simply a visual feast in every way - Bradley King's lighting design is completely breathtaking, Rachel Hauck's scenic design is beautifully grounded with lots of hidden surprises (allowing David Neumann's fabulous choreography and the overall staging to really shine), and Michael Krass' striking costumes tie everything together exactly as it needs.
All these elements come together at their most effective during the iconic 'Wait For Me' number, surprisingly not the close of the first act as it certainly stops the show - we are left speechless, jaws agape, at the spectacle that has graced the Lyric stage.

The material itself is utterly sublime and, with just a little more finesse, this production has the potential to be a spectacular and long-running iteration of the work. 

Hadestown plays at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, and is currently booking into December 2024. Tickets from £25: here.

Review: Penny Lane   Photos: Marc Brenner