Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl is a play based off the ancient Greek story Orpheus and Eurydice. The show directed by Christopher Marlowe Roche, puts the old story about two desperate lovers into a modern light.
Right in the beginning, I didn’t like the character Orpheus played by Michael Majewski. However, it seemed intentional that he was a static character meant to be disliked by the audience.
This production interprets Orpheus, best known for his beautiful music, as an ego maniac who only cares for himself.
Right in the beginning something was off with the two lovers at the beach. He gets upset at Eurydice, played by Kayla Bowe, for having no rhythm.
“I don’t need to know rhythm. I have my books,” said Eurydice.
He attempts to show her how to dance properly on beat, but her feet don’t know how to move to the music. She gets upset because shouldn’t her lover just accept her for the book lover that she is instead of attempting to change her?
Orpheus then love bombs Eurydice who replies with the same “I love you.” He then roughly pulls her closer to him to tie a string tightly on her ring finger. Eurydice’s mood changes to excitement and the two lovers race each other as they are about to get married.
After the wedding, Eurydice is by herself at the water pump wearing her wedding gown and long green strings tied to both wrists. A man who is referred to as the Nasty Interesting Man in the Dramatis Personae approaches her.
Right away Eurydice is uncomfortable being alone with this stranger, but she follows him to his apartment because he says he has a letter from her dead father.
As she waits for him to grab the letter, her demeanor becomes more stressed because she wants to go back to Orpheus at the wedding party. He returns with champagne.
“There is no letter is there?” said Eurydice.
The Nasty Interesting Man points to his back pocket. Eurydice at this point has enough and turns to leave but then the Nasty Interesting Man exclaims he loves her.
He goes off on a tangent that she deserves a man who would put arms on her shoulders, a man who can use his hands to carry a cow into labor. As she struggles to leave, she dies by falling out of his apartment.
Sarah Robbins, a junior music education major who watched different interpretations of the play, has never seen one before focused on Eurydice’s perspective.
The best character by far has to be Eurydice’s father played by Zach Valdez.
“He gives off tender, loving dad energy,” Robbins said.
Eurydice’s father is the only character who truly loves and cares for Eurydice. When she enters the underworld, he immediately greets her and gets her accompanied with the language of the stones, the dead’s speech.
He makes her a room out of string despite no rooms being allowed in the underworld, and despite books not being allowed, he reads her books.
Meanwhile at the overworld, Orpheus writes letters to Eurydice. “I write the saddest music now that you are gone,” reads one letter.
The original Greek story portrays Orpheus as a loving man who went to the underworld to bring back his love only for her to be taken away because he looked back to make sure she was still following. In both the play and story, the Gods agreed she could leave as long as he didn’t turn back to look at her while walking out of the underworld.
In the play though Orpheus appears selfish as he attempts to bring her back. The only reason he wants her back is to make himself less sad. He doesn’t think once that maybe she is better off resting peacefully with her father.
Just as they are walking to the end of the cave, he turns around at the call of his name, which cause him to explode into another fight.
“Your sense of rhythm is off. It’s dangerous not to have a sense of rhythm. Why did you have to say my name?” said a distraught Orpheus.
The Greek story ended with no fight and Eurydice disappearing, but you’ll have to watch the play to see what happens at the end.
One funny moment was when the Lord of the Underworld, also played by Nathan Benson, said, “Husbands are for children. You need a lover,” to Eurydice as he rides a tricycle like a demonic clown wearing patent black patent high heels and a crown.
The actors and actresses did an outstanding performance bringing new life to an ancient tale. The sounds of the kettle boiling, the train and the dripping water helped set the scenes. Also worth mentioning are the Stones who are a group of dead unmoving characters who only become animated when Eurydice and her father broke the rules of the underworld.
The next musical “Urinetown” will premiere April 3 and will run till April 11 at Tohill Theater. Tickets are free for Rowan Students with ID and general admission tickets are $15-$20.
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