This show doesn't the plumb the depths of eternal love but is solidly staged
Reviewed by Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., Feb. 11, 2011
Mary Moody Northen Theatre, 3001 S. Congress, 448-8484
Through Feb. 13
Running time: 1 hr., 30 min.
Eurydice is a play about a young woman getting married. It's a story about how she dies and how her husband, Orpheus, follows her to the underworld. He tries to bring her back to the world of the living, and the story becomes one of heart-wrenching loss.
The beauty of Sarah Ruhl's script, however, is that you can't have real loss without the love that goes before it. Even as one after another character experiences loss in his or her own way, the audience's understanding of the love that connects them grows stronger. The myth on which the play is based centers around the love of Orpheus (Nathan Brockett) for Eurydice (Cassidy Schlitz), but in Ruhl's telling, it's Eurydice's journey that is more compelling, made even more so when she meets her father (Jamie Goodwin, in a touching and quiet performance) in the underworld. "Weddings are for fathers and daughters," Eurydice says early on. The line expresses a lot of what the play is about. A celebration of new love is also a time to say goodbye; letting go only hurts if you love someone. So bring the tissues, and leave with a smile on your face.
Here's the kicker: I wish I could see this production (with direction by Michelle Polgar) again in the future, after all of the St. Edward's University undergraduate actors have been out of school for a few years. They are all good actors with good technical abilities, yet it is extremely rare – not impossible, but rare – to find an actor that age who can understand the depths a script such as Eurydice reaches. Principally, the romance between Eurydice and Orpheus never rises to the level of passion and devotion that would bring a man to travel to the underworld to bring back his wife. It is more on the order of a really fun relationship that lasted a few years in high school but is quickly forgotten even without the help of the River Styx.
Part of the difficulty is due to a script with a challenging first scene that asks two young, innocent lovebirds to show us how deeply their love runs as they frolic on the beach. Similarly, the part of Eurydice is difficult because she is a dreamy, spacey character, but she must also be grounded. The language of the play runs along the same lines: It's poetic yet personal. The actors have to convey emotion without weighing down the words too much.
The production has several strong moments. David Stahl's performance of a Nasty, Interesting Man is chilling, and sniffles could be heard as Eurydice's father reckons with her parting. This show isn't the strongest production ever to come out of the Mary Moody Northen Theatre, but it is a solid rendition of a challenging and beautiful script.