TR Robertson ….Currently on stage at the Brooks Theatre, in downtown Oceanside, is a mesmerizing, innovative tale of love, lost love, family relationships and lost memory. “Eurydice”, written by award winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, is a modern retelling of the classic Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice, only this time told through the eyes of the female perspective. The Greek tale tells the story of Orpheus who loses his wife Eurydice, descends to Hades to try and bring her back to the land of the living, accomplishes his quest only to lose her again.
Ruhl is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and has had 2 of her plays as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama – “The Clean House” in 2004 and “In the Next Room” in 2009. “In the Next Room” also won a Tony Award in 2010 for Best Play. “Eurydice” first appeared off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre in 2007. She has said she wrote the play in honor of her father, who died of cancer in 1994. Ms. Ruhl also said, in another interview, she wanted to use the play to explore the use and understanding of language, an interest she shared with her father.
Ruhl’s retelling of the Greek myth, was shown using a variety of new techniques and innovations to tell the story of this tragic love story. Under the direction of Oceanside Theatre Company Interim Artistic Director Dhyana Dahl, a multi-leveled set designed by Jason Adkins, effective lighting by Paul Canaletti and a three piece musical group under the direction of Bryon Andersen the tragic love story unfolded. Eurydice and her fiancé Orpheus are in love and a marriage will soon be held. She has recently lost her father, whom we will see later in the Underworld. On her wedding day, Eurydice meets “an Interesting Man”, who we find out later is the Lord of the Underworld, who tricks her into following him. When she tries to escape, Eurydice falls, dies and descends to the Underworld. In the Underworld the audience is introduced to what is described as an “Alice-in-Wonderlandesque” scene complete with talking stones (mimicking the ancient Greek chorus) and Eurydice’s deceased father, as well as meeting once again the Lord of the Underworld. The stones try and “help” her understand the situation she is now in as well as tell her the rules surrounding the Underworld. Eurydice has lost her memory and as she is reunited with her father we see her reconnect with her father, begin to regain her memory, experience her wedding accompanied by her father and hear stories about her past from her father. In the world of the living, Orpheus is in misery, having lost his wife, trying to write music to express his love for her and trying to figure out a way to descend to the Underworld to get his wife back. Orpheus is able to descend to the Underworld to see his wife again and try and bring her back to the world of the living, but after all, this is a tragic love story, and not everything a person desires can end in the way they want.
Director Dayana Dahl used a variety of artistic media on stage to tell this story ranging from a three piece musical group featuring Bryon Anderson on percussion and sound effects, Gabrielle Dodaro on violin and Paul Durso on guitar and piano providing both musical accompaniment and musical atmosphere. Also on stage was a large screen where puppeteers presented a stylized artistic view of the story as well as shadows of central figures. Puppeteers Tavis Baker, Madeleine Colburn, Brooke Farnum, Devin McCoy, Shane Murphy and Catalina Zelles provided another interpretation of the tale. The seven member cast featured veteran actors and actresses, many returning to the Oceanside Theatre and several making their Oceanside Theatre debut. Playing Eurydice was Morgan Taylor Altenhoff, in her second production at Oceanside Theatre. Ms Altenhoff presented a tender, enchanting interpretation of Eurydice as she struggled with both the love of Orpheus and her father. Playing Orpheus was John Maltese, making his Oceanside Theatre debut and veteran of several Shakespearean Festival presentations. Playing Eurydice’s father was veteran actor Christopher Pittman who helped weave the story of love lost and love found through death. Film, television and theatre actor Tavis Baker played Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld with both an ominous and a comedic flair. At one moment he was a man of darkness and at another moment he was a thinner version of characters found in Alice and Wonderland. The most unusual roles for this play were the stones, played by Madeleine Colburn as Big Stone, Brooke Farnum as Loud Stone and Catalina Zelles as Little Stone. Madeleine and Brooke are making their first Oceanside Theatre debut. The stones spoke as one for most of the play, occasionally speaking for themselves as they provided the warnings, forebodings and rules of the Underworld.
This interesting, emotional play is approximately 90 minutes in length with no intermission. It is a play that explores relationships, love and love beyond the grave as well as the world between the living and the dead in our quest to discover what our connection is between these two worlds. “Eurydice” runs until February 26th at the Brooks Street Theatre located at 217 North Coast Highway in downtown Oceanside. Tickets are available at 760-433-8900 or go to www.oceansidetheatre.org . Coming next to the theatre is “Picnic” by William Inge, directed by Ted Leib beginning on May 5th.
Brook Theatre 217 North Coast Highway, Oceanside