STYX is a true story about two grandchildren seeking to recover lost memories from their grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s. Using the talents of eight musicians, STYX is an evocative experience combining music, history, myth and neuroscience to recreate the myriad ways in which the mind constructs narrative and memory.
As the audience enters, the band is already in full swing playing a joyous piece reminiscent of a bootleg drinking hall. Above them, a large, floral lampshade hangs in the centre of the stage. When the music stops, the light flickers and fades and a disembodied voice begins to speak. It is a beautiful, whimsical voice—a recording of the creator’s grandmother—and she guides the audience through her love, loss and fears for herself.
Mirroring the real-world love story that underpins this production, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is interwoven with the audio recordings via the musical score and short bursts of speech. However, as the journey through Alzheimer’s progresses, the details of the myth become distorted and difficult to hold on to.
The use of space and light serves as a visual representation of the show’s themes, blending seamlessly with the concepts of memory creation and loss. The eight musicians signify a different region of the brain, each with their own function but acting in concert to produce the overall effect. The lighting assists with this concept as various members of the group are lit, or left in darkness.
Memory, it becomes clear, is the illusion of cohesion. A narrative contortion undertaken by the brain to construct and hold on to the world around. Given that music is the one activity that is experienced in all sections of the brain, it is the perfect vehicle for triggering memory and celebrating a love that endures across generations and beyond the pain of loss.
Above all, STYX is an act of profound love that is impossible to resist.