Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Lindsay Eagle
Stage Manager - Laura Schlein
Movement and Circus Choreographer - Naomi Bennett
Scenic and Properties Designer - Abigail Neuhoff
Costume Designer - Samara Martin
Lighting Designer - Matthew Breton
Sound Designer - Chris Larson
Master Carpenter - Rob Lemire
Assistant Director - Michela Ricci
Assistant Sound Designer - Melissa DeJesus
Production Manager - Chris Anton
Eurydice - Annie Winneg
Orpheus - Greg Nussen
The Father - Cliff Blake
Nasty Interesting Man/The Lord of the Underworld - Adam Lauver
Big Stone - Glen Moore
Little Stone - Sarah J. Gazdowicz
Loud Stone - Sierra Kagen
The Chorus of Stones
Coriana Hunt Swartz
I had been hearing many good things about "Eurydice" presented by the Independent Drama Society so I decided to check it out.
"Eurydice" is based on the original myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The story tells of a musician, Orpheus who had the most beautiful voice in the world, marries his love, Eurydice. Tragically, Eurydice is taken away on the day of their wedding to the underworld and Orpheus must rescue her. With his gorgeous voice, he convinces the powers that be to release her, they do, but on one condition: he must walk out with her behind him and must not look back, or she will be lost forever. Ruhl's story has a few changes, including a unique addition and decides to add Eurydice's father to the mix, having been living in the world of the undead. Eurydice is torn between her love for Orpheus and her desire to stay with her father. A new twist on this story examines the harsh realities of the choices we make and the results we must deal with.
The black box at the BCA is probably one of my favorite spaces in Boston. Its potential is limitless and that’s exactly how IDS looked at it. Within the first few minutes of arriving, the stage was set as a small little circus tent. During the preshow, the members of the chorus dressed as clowns in tutus, baggy pants, vests and the like, were interacting with their surroundings, each other and the audience. This was the experience and world that we start to become a part of. It was beautiful.
Everyone in the cast displays very strong performances. The chorus of stones, played by Chris Anton, Melissa DeJesus, Zach Eisenstat, Coriana Hunt Swartz, Chris Larson, Micah Tougas, and Victoria Townsend, are a unit of playful misfits who each have their own unique little quirks, defined by how they move or speak, not just by how they are costumed. They function as energetic commune, infused with a nice blend of Commedia Dell'arte and acrobats. They are a part of the action or to move the story along, including their ability to create a very convincing elevator to carry Eurydice down to Hades. They are easily one of most interesting and wonderfully created aspects of the show. Their acrobatics and movements are a sight to see. Naomi Bennett's movement and choreography blends well and it brings additional flavor to the production.
The three major stones, big, little and loud played by Glen Moore, Sarah J. Gazdowicz, Sierra Kagen respectively, become the ones that have dialogue with the other characters, stand out with distinct facial expressions and voice, but are able to meld back into the chorus of stones. Their ability to stand out and fit in is remarkable. Cliff Blake plays the caring and gentle father of Eurydice. He manages to create a tender and beautiful relationship with his daughter, quietly and subtlety, making us believe his role as a father. Blake's voice and movements are careful and fluid. One scene in particular involving string brought me to tears due to his simplicity of this character. Annie Winneg plays Eurydice well, a girl full of hopes and dreams, with a child-like quality. Her chemistry with Blake is sweet and touching, however, her time alone we don't feel as much as we could of her struggle and her difficult journey, emotionally and mentally. Greg Nussen's Orpheus is quiet, relaxed, and carefree, but his angst and feelings of loss don't come through as much it could, considering his love is gone and his desire to bring her back is mixed with numerous emotions. Though not needing be over the top, something must bubble to the surface. Adam Lauver's Mystery Man/Lord of the Underworld is dark fellow and makes the line between charmer/creeper uncertain. Though the choice is strong, it continues to go back and forth, never getting a true beat on who he really is, creating a confusing arc.
The set designed by Abigail Neuhoff, as mentioned before was a wonderful choice of putting everything in circus-y world, with the colors of red and white. There were levels constructed as well, with various half empty glasses and bottles of water, something that stood out but for some reason added a nice touch. Matthew Breton's lighting design at times was a bit confusing and there was a good amount of pink used throughout was at times distracting, though creating a nice warm tone. However, the use of gobos and other colors at other points including Eurydice's descent and in certain points of isolation in the story played incredibly strong. The costuming done by Samara Martin fit well with this world that was created, and as mentioned, the chorus had mixed pieces that contributed a great deal to their quirkiness. The principles were dressed in contemporary outfits that displayed a nice contrast to the world. I also appreciated the lack of footwear in the majority of the production, specifically seeing Eurydice and her father dressed nicely barefoot. It was a nice touch, helping us to picture their surroundings.
Lindsay Eagle's direction is smart and effective. Her constant use of water was interesting and came out at very specific times. Being such a significant element, I appreciated its subtlety, representing various transitions. It went almost unnoticed but remained a constant element in the play. Her choice to stage it with different aspects of clowning, circus and the dream world was an excellent choice, blurring the lines of reality and the unknown.
The sound design and music done by Chris Larson and Melissa DeJesus was a nice idea added to this production. Through heightened scenes, there was an excellent use of tonal music that contributed a great deal. Also, the simple sound effects from the descent of the elevator the continual rain brought forth the unique world.
IDS presented a strong production of a wonderfully beautiful yet tragic story. The visuals and world created is wondrous and full of the unknown. "Eurydice" is something that must be experienced and be a part of. With strong performances and captivating moments, the show pulls you in and leaves you with a memorable theatrical journey.