Eurydice @ Westridge School

The play Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl is Westridge Theatre’s 2nd production of the 2012-13  Year of Women Playwrights season.  All 4 performances in the Black Box Theatre (11/29-30, 12/1-2) were well-attended by the Westridge community. It’s a complex tale of remembrance and letting go.  The story is based on the Greek mythical character Eurydice.  In the original myth, Eurydice is the wife of Orpheus who died tragically on her wedding day and Orpheus bargains with Hades to bring her back from the underworld.

Sarah Ruhl’s modern day re-telling of the myth introduces some twists and a new character — Eurydice’s deceased father.  Although he resides in the underworld, he has managed to “not forget” his mortal life.  The father becomes Eurydice’s emotional support as she transitions to her new existence. Meanwhile a Chorus of Stones reminds them that it against the rules to keep such attachments in the underworld. Eurydice’s father has broken the rules by remembering. In the end Eurydice must choose whether or not to follow Orpheus out of the underworld or to stay with her father in death.

It was wonderful to see such strong performances all around.  Each actor showed deep commitment to her role. Senior Simona Brooks embodied the graceful innocence of the lead character, especially when confronted by the Nasty Interesting Man, slickly played by Jade Cohen.  Emma Rothenberg held nothing back in her passionate portrayal of the bereaved groom Orpheus.  His fervent poetry contrasts the calm, narrative voice of Eurydice’s father, tenderly played by Madeleine Russell.  Both characters confound Eurydice as she must decide whether to stay or to go.   Riveting performances by Jessica Porter, Lara Edwards and Rebecca Shao provided the contextual framework and some comic relief as they shout their objections to the rule-breakers. “Being sad is not allowed. Act like a stone! “

The play was an ambitious undertaking for Westridge Theatre as it primarily works on an emotional level.  Outrageous make-up and Victorian costumes created shock value when the maleficent chorus of stones arrived on the stage.  The mood was supported by Mr. Stuffel’s cleverly crafted set which looked like the stark underground of an abandoned subway.  For those who may have experienced the death of a loved one, Eurydice taps into that memory and holds on.  For others it is a story of love and loss that unfolds in a dark grey room with exposed pipes and the drip, drip, drip of a place where nothing happens.