Every now and then you see a show that stays with you long after the final curtain, still percolating in your mind as you turn off the light and go to sleep. Simon Oats' one-man show Orpheus at the Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne is one of these.
The story of Orpheus' journey to the underworld to bring back his dead lover Eurydice is one that has been told often. But has it ever been told so powerfully, so beautifully, so poignantly as it is by Simon Oats?
From the moment Oats first sets his foot on the stage, with his electric guitar slung over his shoulder, his eyes looking directly at his audience, I am enraptured. He has my full attention and I remain riveted, totally immersed in his performance, until the end.
Simon Oats is a masterful storyteller. Using an intelligent combination of narrative and song, he takes us right into the heart and mind of Orpheus as he experiences the ecstasy of love, the anguish of loss and his extraordinary determination to bring his lover back from the dead. We are taken on a vivid journey with him to the underworld, meeting other characters along the way: one very horny goat-man; the wickedly funny ferryman; a rather poised Hades and his lovely wife Persephone. This talented actor/singer/songwriter mixes a fabulous blend of comedy, sex and passionate emotion on this trip, and what a trip!
Oats slips effortlessly between his characters and himself as narrator. His songs are cleverly written, entertaining and often moving. His "Ferryman" delivers a very witty rap that is just one of the many highlights, as is the no-holds-barred sexually aroused goat-man (don't take the kids!) But it is as Orpheus that Oats really moves the audience. His singing is reminiscent of Jeff Buckley in the rawness of its emotion. It is truly moving, particularly when Orpheus sings of his love for Eurydice, persuading Persephone and Hades to let her return to the world with her lover.
Oats is a very focused performer but he never forgets his audience. He is, after all, telling us a story. The houselights remain on throughout as he keeps eye contact with us all. The venue is small and intimate. It's just Oats and his electric guitar and his extraordinary storytelling skills. Amazing. Do NOT miss this show.
Simon Oats presents
Venue: The Son of Loft, Lithuanian Club
Dates: 26 Sept - 11 Oct 2008
Times: 7:45pm Tuesday - Saturday; 6:45pm Sundays Excluding Monday
Tickets: Conc $12.00, Full $16.00, Group $12.00, Tightarse Tues $10.00
Bookings: Festival Tix: 03 9660 9666 or www.melbournefringe.com.au