AUSTRALIAN circus ensemble Circa present this haunting spectacle in a graveyard. Using the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice as inspiration, the group guide visitors on a “journey through the underworld” as acrobats perform overheard and a choir provides an atmospheric score.

In the Greek myth, Orpheus travels to the underworld to persuade Hades to allow his wife, Eurydice, to come back to Earth. Hades agrees but on one condition – Orpheus must not look back at his wife until both were back on earth. Director Yaron Lifschitz tells EDWIN GILSON about the project.

How did you end up choosing Woodvale Cemetery as the location for your performance?

The project was conceived for cemeteries, but not just any – it needs to be beautiful but also not in current use. We first created it in the Tower Hamlets Cemetery in London. Woodvale has a section that is very old and enchanted and it is perfect. Cemeteries are unusual and complicated places to perform in. We have been incredibly lucky with our generous hosts who have understood that this is a chance to reinvigorate links to community and to encounter these extraordinary sites with fresh eyes, full of wonder.

Did the story of Orpheus and Eurydice act as a starting point? Did it come together around the framework of that legend?

Absolutely. It is a hugely resonant myth of love, loss and journey. Our images, choreography and music are are inspired by it. I’m not a storyteller and it’s not a literal retelling but the show is infused with this myth and we respond to it, build on it and live within its great canopy.

You promise to guide audiences “through the space between life and death”. How is this metaphorical area manifested in the performance?

The show is both a quest and a procession. As an audience we are at once Orpheus and Eurydice, journeying towards the underworld, and it is up to us to reflect on that. But mostly I feel like beauty is a key factor. It’s easy to think of cemeteries as places where there is only sadness but so much life is here, and so much beauty.

Is it a thrilling challenge to display a narrative through circus and dance, without the use of text or storytelling?

Sometimes I wish I could just explain what we do! But absolutely – the thrill is to communicate directly with audiences at a non-verbal level. To talk from our insides to their insides with light, bodies, music and space. It keeps us honest; we have to find an immediate, powerful connections and keep that going across a whole site.

What do you think audiences will take away from this show? In what way does it illuminate the themes of death, life and the afterlife?

In our current culture we tend to be shielded from death – it is something antiseptic and foreign. I think this is a pity. Walking through old graves, looking at pathways, shadows, leaves and also dancers, acrobats and choirs creates a sense of gathering and of communal experience. Death in this context is an experience, part of the rich fabric of being human. I hope that that audiences experience beauty and poetry and delight.

Depart, Brighton Festival, Woodvale Cemetery, Lewes Road, May 25 – 28