Hadestown reviews – National Theatre London ★★★★

Reviews are in for Hadestown at the National Theatre in London.

Created by celebrated American singer songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin, Mitchell’s concept album has been transformed for the stage. The show aims to re-imagine the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice with a mixture of folk and vintage New Orleans jazz music.

The cast includes Sharif Afifi, Reeve Carney, André De Shields, Rosie Fletcher, Amber Gray, Beth Hinton-Lever, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Eva Noblezada, Seyi Omooba, Gloria Onitiri, Patrick Page, Aiesha Pease, Joseph Prouse, Jordan Shaw and Shaq Taylor.

Hadestown will transfer to Broadway when the National run finishes on the 26th January 2019.

Read a round-up of reviews below. 

Average Critics Rating

Hadestown reviews

The Guardian

"A beguiling fable for today"

"There are some cracking songs in Rachel Chavkin and Anaïs Mitchell’s haunting journey through the underworld"

"What strikes me most is its tendency, like its hero, to look backwards as well as forwards. Hadestown’s starting point is the classical legend of the poet-musican Orpheus, who descends into the underworld to rescue his beloved Eurydice."

Michael Billington, The Guardian
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The Evening Standard

"Greek myth meets the Depression in haunting musical feast"

"Musically it’s a feast — full of folksy melancholy and heartache, yet also packed with gospel, dirty funk and New Orleans jazz."

"It’s tightly choreographed and genuinely inventive. Sometimes operatic and sometimes bluesy, it manages to sound seductively hushed one moment and rollicking the next."

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard
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The Sunday Times

"This Trump-tinged reworking of Orpheus has its moments — but burn some of the songs"

"some good things, some terrific songs, but plenty of duff ones as well, making for a pretty patchy evening. There are also moments that breathe the very spirit of Theatre — but in a bad way. Choreography with chairs, for instance. And beating someone up through the medium of dance."

"The on-stage band are cracking, sounding as though they’re just off a plane from New Orleans, but alas, some of the songs are irredeemably draggy. Why We Build the Wall is an awful mix of babyish world-view and bombastic bellowing. Or how about the lyrics: “Men are fools / Men are frail / Give them the rope and they’ll hang themselves.”

"Some songs, though, are barnstormers — Livin’ It Up on Top was a favourite. Chavkin should have pared and improved a lot more. If you can cope with some dull stretches, and the sense that this is a show that takes itself way too seriously, this is still an intermittently entertaining experience."

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The Telegraph

"Enjoyable winter-warmer that's a near myth"

"Those seeking “value for money” can’t complain given that they’re treated, over more than two hours, to song after well-sung, well-crafted song, a bumper-pack of bluesy, folksy, jazzy material that does the soul good to hear it. Or can they?"

"Mitchell’s through-sung approach squeezes out opportunities for richly character-defining dialogue. Her lyrics often come not from psychologically detailed personae but from the show’s collective spirit of story-telling"

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Financial Times

"An enjoyable, engaging Hadestown at the National’s Olivier Theatre"

"The journey of the story is both enjoyable and engaging . . . which, as Hermes concludes, is in one respect the whole point of retelling any familiar tale.”

Ian Shuttleworth, The Financial Times
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The Stage

"Stunning new folk opera"

"Anais Mitchell’s folk musical is much more than just the love story."

"Dialogue melts imperceptibly into song. Lines that start as spoken end up in full chorus and Mitchell’s stomping folk songs sound timeless. Chavkin oversees some great visual set pieces, particularly making use of the Olivier’s revolve. At one point Hades, Persephone and wafts of haze get sucked into the drum, descending into hell."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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"Gloriously offbeat musical"

"‘Hadestown’ is not perfect, but it is really, really good. The wonderfully diverse songs of Mitchell’s expanded, virtually sung-through soundtrack are the bedrock."
"A few bits and bobs don’t work, and it’s a shame Orpheus is one of them, but quibbling over such a joyously different musical feels pretty churlish. Just go along with it – and never look back."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Times

"Not nearly as interesting as it should be"

"It’s a Greek myth, of course, so everyone already knows the ending but the characters should at least be somewhat believable. I didn’t buy that Orpheus and Eurydice were in love for a minute. Their initial dance (choreography by David Neumann) seemed wholly devoid of emotion. Other numbers did flow better although there was a mind-numbing amount of circular walking on the Olivier travelator."

Ann Treneman, The Times
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👤 📅15 November 2018
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📷 Main photo: The company of Hadestown at National Theatre. Photo by Helen Maybanks

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