Styx @ Assembly George Square Gardens
Heart-warming, touching and gorgeously executed, Second Body's second production is once again a triumph
Styx, which has returned to the Fringe for a second time after its hit debut in 2019, opens with an undeniably heartwarming conversation between the two performers, Max Barton and Jethro Cooke. The pair explain in their opening section how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their ability to put on the show with their entire cast, how it has changed the way in which the show is performed and what this means to them. It's a touching beginning to a beautifully touching story, based loosely on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but more specifically about Barton's own grandparents, their love story and his grandmother's struggle with Alzhiemers.
The sounds of the performers' voices and instruments are utilised to great effect to explain the way in which our brains work and what we know so far about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's. The lighting design is lovely, with the simple illumination of lightbulbs adding to the atmosphere. Recordings of Barton's grandmother's voice are used throughout. She tells the audience the story of Eurydice and Orpheus and her own story in her own words, sharing beautiful memories with a voice that radiates love, lending a unique joyfullness to this production. Myths, memories and Barton and Cooke's wonderfully experimental music are expertly weaved together, perfectly conveying feelings of joy, sorrow and a great deal of love.
The true star of the show is Barton’s grandmother, but Barton and Cooke deserve credit for an absolutely outstanding achievement. Styx flawlessly merges music with memory, and the show runs fluidly without a single false note. The chilling beauty of the final scenes will leave audiences with tears streaming down their faces. COVID-19 has in many ways disadvantaged this play, but Second Body's work of gig theatre is still a true jewel in the Fringe's crown.
Run now ended. For information on Second Body and upcoming tours, see secondbody.co.uk