Some Greek myths are known for being tragic and EURYDICE is no exception. Sarah Ruhl's adaptation translates EURYDICE into a contemporary and easier to swallow version of the original myth. All the elements of Greek mythology are still present including the main character with a fatal flaw, intervention of a god, and a chorus of stones that help provide narrative and comedic breaks for the audience.
It was Eurydice and Orpheus's wedding night, when she is tempted by a evil man. He claims he has a letter from her dead father. In a desperate attempt to read it, she dies and travels into the underworld. In the Underworld Eurydice encounters the stones and her dead father, who teaches her the ways of the world, just as a father would. Orpheus overcome with sadness writes letters to Eurydice in the Underworld, which become progressively maniacal. For Orpheus, getting over his love is as difficult as finding a correct parking space at UCF, so he enters the Underworld to find her. If he looks back she will be lost forever. Of course, he looks back and everything is incredibly sad.
All the performers in this production have an incredible way of sharing their emotions with the audience. Terrance Jackson, who played the Father at this performance, was tender and genuine. The audience felt every emotional high Jackson gave as a Father encountering his daughter for the first time in a long time, then teaching her life lessons, and then the despair losing her again.
Deirdre Manning was charming as Eurydice, watching her grow from selfish to self-sacrificing. Manning embodies Eurydice's love, desires, and learning experience with full emotion and passion. She has a clear talent for understanding her character, then adding depth. Oppositely, Orpheus is a man in love, so much so, that he would go to the farthest depths to reach his love. Glenn Lorandeau exudes tender love and acts so mournfully as though his heart has been broken a thousand times when she is gone. Each letter he sends to Eurydice seemingly goes through the stages of grief, but rather than acceptance, he ends in the Underworld.
Man/Child/Lord is a strange character, who is a seducer, then turns into a child, and Lord of the Underworld. Lucas Thompson was able to interpret the range of these different aspects of the same character - sometimes intense, and other times with as an insane lord with an odd child complex. The cast of stones were the opposite of emotional, but had the difficult task of being still, while maintaining impeccable timing. While they are human props, the stones are entertaining and one of the strongest aspects of this production.
The set emanates the feel of a jungle gym, an impressive tasks for a relatively small space and built entirely from scratch. The only flaw of this production was the recorded background music, which at times sounded like a cheesy record player. To distinguish between the living world and the underworld, the use of underwater projections was effective and beautifully done.
Produced by Theatre UCF and directed by Julia Listengarten, EURYDICE stars Deirdre Manning as Eurydice, Glenn Lorandeau as Orpheus, Lucas Thompson as Man/Child/Lord, Quentin Darrington as Father (at this performance Terrance Jackson), and Caitlin Doak, Brooke Evans, Rashad Guy, Dustin Maxwell, Edmarie Montes, Patrick Mounce, and Amanda Tavarez as Stones.
For more information about the Theatre UCF, please visit http://theatre.cah.ucf.edu/
Photo Credit: Tony Firriolo