May 13, 2018
‘Eurydice’ may have the reputation of tragic love, but in Sarah Ruhl’s reimagined legend, the tender connection between father and daughter is what gleams beyond the Underworld’s restrictive rules that the dead should not remember or yearn for lost family. John Craven’s Father takes a central role, with childlike gentleness toward Eurydice, determined to keep her grounded and aware in a madcap world of chanting stones and creaking caverns where no one is allowed to cry.
Its stylized dialogue is unusual; Ruhl uses repetitive words, such as “interesting” and “story” in staccato rhythms, keeping an off-kilter discomfort simmering beneath the otherwise languid flow of peaceful ripples in her writing. Love is compared to relaxing in the shade of a protective tree, leading Eurydice to question if Orpheus was the right partner for her, since he was always distracted by his music.
Hesitant wonder emerges through Chris Ginesi’s direction. Earnestly ruminating over books and beautiful words, Brianna Rene Dinges’ Eurydice is torn between leaving her father and following Orpheus back to a whirlwind of parties, fading into his shadow and feeling out of place, despite being technically alive. Taylor Diffenderfer’s Orpheus is driven by musical composition, rather than execution, causing him to become obsessed with the melodies in his own head. Ginesi brings a caressing, intense focus between the lovers in their brief moments together. Casting a woman as Orpheus and allowing her to take on the role of a man without comment adds to the Alice Through the Looking Glass feel of the production, showing what our world could be when unconcerned with gender norms.
The Lord of the Underworld is a petulant child with twisted ideas of affection, tormenting Eurydice with unwanted advances. Neil Thollander is suitably chilling, although reducing him to a cliché one-dimensional villain is disappointing. The stone chorus is distractingly out of sync, despite intriguing dusty clown makeup.
Rich sound design by Doug Faxon submerges into gurgling rivers, eerie dripping, bellowing train whistles and crashing ocean waves. Elizabeth Craven’s costumes and props reflect a classic Elvis era innocence and weathered washed-up flotsam of humanity. The jewel-toned set design of velvets, underwater currents, trunks, and the instruments of dreams by David Lear creates a magical grotto in Main Stage West’s intimate theater.
‘Eurydice’ is a sensitive exploration of the link between fathers and daughters that not even death can sever. It has a quiet attraction all its own, that pays homage to the original Greek myth without being constrained by it.
Photos by Eric Chazankin
Author Website - http://imaginationlane.net
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