In a bustling back street of Brisbane a steady stream of toe tappers are making their way in through a dark doorway, clad in their finest 1930's attire. The jazzy sounds of a piano man spill out over the candle lit tables and into the front entrance of Brisbane's answer to the mid-week Parisian music hall. The Tivoli is easily not only the best, but the most natural choice for this tale of tragedy, it's smooth sounds of jazz mixed with the sensual style of chanson.
Everyone is playing the part – the ladies have a dress of flapper and the gents are oh so dapper, even the bar staff are looking suave as the atmosphere is thick with anticipation.
Roses softly lit by candle light and matched with red table cloths are placed throughout the floor as well as on the balcony level where you can lean over and peer down at the tables of delicately dressed people nibbling on French fare and sipping on sparkling as the pianist sings 'The lady is a Tramp'. Tres' sophisticated for a Tuesday night...
The musicians enter the stage – Yvette Pepin (Eugenie Pastor) takes the microphone and instructs the audience to “sit back and let us delight you with a theatrical extravaganza.” Well. Truer words have never been spoken.
From the very first note we are on a train of melodrama, frail and fainting fillies, a man with a suit so white it could blind you and a moustache so sharp it could cut through a cold wedge of camenbert!
Django Reinhardt (Dominic Conway) has so many facial expressions to relay his message you barely even notice that the entire play contains little to no actual dialogue. Projections on the screen keep us in the loop of the more complex moments and this cast of seven musicians are not only playing instruments but are off and darting between constant character changes whilst backed by the ever busy pianist. From charming woodland critters to baguette biting Parisians this cast are unbelievably committed to each twitch of the whisker. Deer who dance AND play double bass? Sir, you underestimate the term 'triple threat'...
So much dialogue is delivered without even a single word uttered, perfectly displayed in Orpheus's silent scream at the discovery of the death of his beloved Eurydice. Deafening without so much as a whisper slipping his lips. The only sound you need is brought to you through the music of his guitar, and beautifully complemented by the sounds of each cast member's instrument. When you're not holding your sides from the hilarity of the silent actions you are in awe of the musical interludes which alone, make the show an absolute treat. Persephone's operatic performance was enough to blow the beret right off your head.
Simple back drops and quick change costumes are so wonderfully matched to this performance it couldn't be any better if it tried and the clever use of props were so well placed it gave the whole night a high-class-low-budget feel that reminded you that less is definitely more for so many reasons.
Act III is absolutely jam packed full of heart racing music and dramatic interpretation as Orpheus battles through the turmoil of the underworld to save his maiden fair. You hold your breath and you really feel yourself gunning for our protagonist, even though you know it is never going to end well. How can tragedy be so funny? This production absolutely nails it.
This performance is entertaining and delightful from the first instance of walking through the door, long before the music starts. From the food and rendezvous setting to the music and melodrama Orpheus is far from a tragic evening. Laugh, drink and be merry, just never look back...
Brisbane Festival and Datacom in association with The Tivoli present
Little Bulb Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre
Venue: The Tivoli | 52 Costin Street, Fortitude Valley QLD
Dates: 12 - 16 Sep 2017