Review - Hadestown - Lyric Theatre, London

Hadestown - Lyric Theatre

From small beginnings touring Vermont in a school bus back in 2006, this show has grown to become a mammoth musical making it’s West End premiere at The Lyric Theatre. Taking it’s basis from the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridice, this is a tragic tale of power, trust and love.

This is a post-apocalyptic, industrial take on the story and it feels so relevant in todays world. The climate of the world above is in turmoil and the world below of Hadestown is unbearable to live in with King Hades in charge. He’s a man fuelled by rage and his love for his wife Persephone. Gods, Fates and Mortals come together in this story in a clash of worlds.

Every member of this cast feels like they were born to play their roles; Melanie La Barrie shines as Hermes, our storyteller of the evening. Melanie owns the stage from the second she steps out and has the audience in the palm of her hand for the entirety of the show. With incredible vocal talent, belting with ease some of the bigger notes, this is the performance of a lifetime and one which deserves to be seen by everyone.

Grace Hodgett Young has another star turn here, coming off the back of her professional debut in Sunset Boulevard in 2023, she is soaring to stardom and we’re all on the journey with her. Grace has a wonderful ability to not only give huge vocals but also performs the lighter more delicate numbers with an ease and poise that warms your heart. Grace has a wonderful chemistry with Dónal Finn as Orpheus, he is wonderful as the starry eyed boy who ventures into the depths of the underworld to save his love. Dónal’s voice is simply beautiful and he is given the opportunity to show off his skills in this show, particularly in ‘Wait for Me’.

The role of Hades is not one many actors would be able to perform at the level required, but Zachary James makes it look like the easiest thing in the world, showing off a spectacular vocal range, ‘Hey, Little Songbird’ is a stand out where we get to see Zachary at his best. The role of Hades feels like a slow burn, really coming into his own in Act 2 with the outstanding ‘His Kiss, The Riot’. Zachary plays the role with the perfect amount of darkness and also being able to lean into some of the comedy, he is a delight to watch bring this role to life.

The connection between Hades and Persephone is one of intensity and deep love for each other.  Gloria Onitiri is fantastic as Persephone, her connection with Zachary as Hades is astounding to watch. Together they bring a powerful energy to the stage and Gloria has found the roots of who Persephone is and brings her to life with a feminine energy perfectly offsetting the darkness of Hades. Gloria has a voice that takes your breath away, she captivates the audience and keeps us entranced throughout her entire performance.

No Greek mythology would be complete without Fates and a Greek Chorus; Bella Brown, Madeline Charlemange and Allie Daniel are the perfect team as the Fates. They guide our characters through their choices, intervening and ensuring things go the way they should. Each, outstanding in their own right, all shine on stage. The ensemble made up of Lauren Azania, Tiago Dhondt Bamberger, Beth Hinton-Lever, Waylon Jacobs and Christopher Short do a wonderful job of supporting the leads. They truly help emphasise the key points of the story and match the energy of the show incredibly.

The design of the show from Rachel Hauck and lighting from Bradley King feel like characters in their own right, with jaw dropping moments that honestly took my breath away. The use of a revolve and lift in the centre of the stage feel justified and used to their full effect.

As a sung-through show there is no shortage of beautiful melodies and clever lyrics. With sounds taken from the Jazz, Folk and Rock genres, this is a solid blend of music which means every song is impactful and entrancing. The seven piece band are seen on stage throughout and really help bring the show to life with rousing performances from all.

Everything about this show is perfect, from the impeccable casting, to the design, to the impactful music and lyrics. This is the best example of new musical theatre in recent years. Make your ‘way down to Hadestown, way down under the ground’ as soon as you can to see this incredible show.

This show was reviewed on the 21st February 2024 at the Lyric Theatre where Hadestown runs until December 2024.  Tickets available here: Hadestown West End | Official Website | Lyric Theatre

***** stars (although I would give it 10 if I could!)

Rosie Browne

Join Rosie every Monday from midday for the 'Musical Lunch Box' here on Box Office Radio


Photo credit: Marc Brenner