Scotch'n'Soda’s seven-person cast of “Eurydice,” written by Sarah Ruhl, did not fall short in terms of emotion and entertainment. The show, which ran from Feb. 11 to 12 in the University Center's Studio Theater, retells the story of Orpheus’ trip to the underworld to save his dead wife, Eurydice; this time from her perspective.
The play opens with Eurydice, played by Amber Quinn, and Orpheus, played by Zachary Everett-Lane, getting engaged, which is quickly followed by the wedding. From the beginning, Quinn and Everett-Lane seemed to fit right into their characters; it took no time at all to get lost in their performance. In these scenes, it is very easy to get a sense of what kind of love Eurydice and Orpheus have for each other — it’s overwhelming, though you can clearly see there are still doubts in Eurydice’s mind from time to time.
To me, these doubts lead perfectly into Eurydice’s decision to trust the “Nasty Interesting Man” (Clayton Edwards) who offers her a letter written by her dead father (Quincy Eaton), who we had seen writing the letter from the underworld the scene prior. This letter, of course, leads to Eurydice’s downfall (both physically — down lots of stairs — and metaphorically), and she is now dead.
Along with Eurydice’s arrival in the Underworld, we are greeted by the stones: the Little Stone, the Big Stone, and the Loud Stone (Mia Krishnamurthy, Savannah Talledo, and Abigail Miller-Petersen, respectively). Though they are a comparatively minor set of characters compared to some of the other parts, I found them to be an entertaining group. Anyways, the Stones serve as a chorus to Eurydice’s time in the underworld, stating the rules and serving as a constant reminder that the dead are dead and nothing more.
Following Eurydice’s arrival, her father finds her, but Eurydice is not able to understand that it's her father since she has been dunked into the river Lethe. The actors’ performance clearly demonstrates the frustration of being so close yet so far to someone you love. Though the stones remind him Eurydice speaks the language of the dead now, her father still builds a room of string for her, a touching yet hopeless gesture.
Throughout the play, Orpheus will reenter the stage, writing a letter to Eurydice or announcing his plans to get her back from the underworld. I thought it was clever to use the single set as a way to deliver information between the overworld and underworld despite it being obvious which world the speaker was in. Who knew a worm was so good at being a messenger to the underworld?
After one of Orpheus’ letters is delivered to Eurydice, she remembers who she is and recognizes the “porter” as her father. The following scenes spend time building their relationship as Eurydice’s father teaches her language and about his past.
During the relationship scenes, we see the Lord of the Underworld, who happens to be the same person as the Nasty Interesting Man but much more childlike, attempting to seduce Eurydice and failing. I must say that Edwards does a convincing job of playing separate personalities and really sold the more serious demeanor of the Nasty Interesting Man and the childlike behavior of the Lord of the Underworld, and it did not go unnoticed.
Eventually, Orpheus arrives in the underworld to save Eurydice, with a song so emotional that it makes even the Stones weep. The Lord of the Underworld greets Orpheus and promises him that if Orpheus can leave the underworld without looking behind him at Eurydice, then he can leave with her. He agrees and begins his march to the gates of the Underworld.
At this point, we see Eurydice debating if she truly wants to leave the underworld and, in the end, follows after Orpheus at her father’s insistence. Eurydice ends up calling out Orpheus, who turns around, and Eurydice dies a second time as her father had warned.
I would describe the following scenes to definitely be the most emotional in the entire play. Following Eurydice’s departure, her father decides that he can’t live with the memory of her, so he decides to plunge himself back into the river Lethe to forget her. After Eurydice arrives back in her “room” following her second death, she finds her father laying on the ground, silent, having lost his memories and all sense of language. After the Lord of the Underworld informs Eurydice that she will be his bride, she too decides to plunge into the river Lethe after she writes a letter to Orpheus and his future wife.
In the final scene of the performance, Orpheus arrives in the underworld, having died as well. Having no linguistic ability, he attempts to understand the message Eurydice left for him in the same way she had tried to understand his letter earlier in the show, but of course, his efforts are a waste, and the show ends.
Overall, “Eurydice” was a very solid play and the cast did an excellent job conveying all the emotions of the play and more. From the beginning to the end, the performers were locked into character, which made for a very entertaining and emotional show. On top of the actors, the multi-level design of the set facilitated interesting stage movement, and the lights and visuals really sold the entire production. As such, everyone involved in the production deserves high praise for an outstanding show.