The EOU Theatre Program’s presentation of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” was a very elemental play. The themes of water, earth, love and death dominated this modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
The play explores these themes along with loss, memory and convention with subtly expressed emotions and, at times, clever wit.
Mike Heather directed the eerie and ethereal play that ran this past November on campus in the Schwartz Theater.
Heather chose a fairly minimal stage design that featured a watery elevator to the Underworld along with three, seemingly, floating platforms spaced around the edge of the stage. Four slightly off-perpendicular polls ran from the stage to the scaffolding which provided some structure to the design.
It begins with Eurydice, gracefully played by Adraine Jacobs, lying side by side with her lover Orpheus, played by Joshua Gilman. Though different by nature, the two are deeply in love and commit to be married.
“I always thought there would be more interesting people at my wedding,” Eurydice says to herself as she wanders away from her wedding party. She is approached by A Nasty Interesting Man, played by Sam Trost, and lured to his high-rise apartment by a mysterious letter from her dead father.
She falls to her death and discovers that the man is also the Lord of the Underworld.
In the Underworld there is no memory, so when Eurydice is approached by her father she doesn’t recognize him. He has managed to maintain his memory, to the chagrin of the Stones, and is lovingly understanding of her condition.
One of the most touching parts of the play is when Eurydice’s father builds her a room in the Underworld.
He methodically wraps a string around the four poles and creates a unique space for his daughter. Skillfully played by Travis Connor, the father emits a complex, fatherly love while constructing the room.
Throughout the play, the sharply dressed Stones continually remind the inhabitants of the Underworld about the customs of this plane of existence. Played by Krysta Theisen, Josh Byers, and Rachel Bens, the Stones insist these conventions in unison; lending more gravity to their words.
Heather used short transitions to make the audience feel as though we had been transported to different levels of existence while maintaining the minimal stage.
“Eurydice” was further enhanced by the use of muted tones of blue, green and red that reinforced, along with the selected airy and pensive melodies, the elemental themes within the play.
This one act play is hard to characterize as merely a tragedy because of the comedic moments and its non-linear, impressionistic presentation, so I’ll not characterize it at all.
The actors performed well on the whole, but I would have liked to have seen more energy from the ensemble.
EOU’s telling of “Eurydice” was a well executed production that inspired the imagination and celebrated the possibilities of live theatre.