By Alec Clayton
Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl is a modern retelling of the Orpheus myth as seen through the eyes of Orpheus’s wife, Eurydice (pronounced yuh-RID-ih-see). As performed by the SPSCC Theatre Collective, it is mystical, poetic and surrealistic.
In the program, director Lauren Love wrote, “Ruhl’s imagination is thoroughly theatrical. She refracts her poetry through the language of the characters … through their silences and through the space they occupy that gains its dimension in light, costume, sound and state.”
As such, this play depends on lights, set, costume and sound much more so than naturalistic plays do. Kudos for excellent work by technical director and set designer Adam Michard, lighting designer Olivia Burlingame, costume designer Charlotte Darling and — surprising as it may be for a non-musical play — choreographer David Accurso.
The seven-person cast is outstanding. Chris Bolduc as Orpheus is believably obsessed with his music, and Ivy Aijala Wardell delightfully captures the voice and mannerisms of a young woman wrapped up in herself and young love. Veteran actors Scott Douglas and Brian Hatcher are simply amazing, and the three actors playing the stones must be seen and heard.
The play begins with the young lovers Eurydice and Orpheus declaring their love for one another before their wedding. Meanwhile, in the underworld, Eurydice’s dead father (Douglas) tries to send letters to her. Eurydice is accosted by “Nasty Interesting Man (Hatcher),” who cajoles Eurydice into coming to his apartment by saying he has a letter from her father. He attempts to seduce her. When she tries to escape, she trips on the stairs and falls to her death, then goes to an underworld guarded by three stones — Little Stone (Tom Sanders), Loud Stone (Jesse Morrow) and Big Stone (Christine Goode) — who act as a sometimes funny, sometimes infuriating Greek Chorus.
In the underworld, Eurydice finds her father, who builds a mystical room for her and treats her with the utmost kindness, despite the stones constantly saying this is all impossible because they’re dead. Finally, the Lord of the Underworld (Hatcher again) allows Orpheus to take Eurydice back to earth, with the condition that when she follows him, he cannot look back to see her. But like Lot’s wife in the Biblical story, Orpheus cannot resist looking back.
Eurydice is outstanding in acting, directing and every technical aspect. Do go. Do not go expecting traditional theater. Better yet, go with no preconceptions whatsoever. The play runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Proof of vaccination and face coverings will be required to attend.
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19 and 20;
2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21
Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts, SPSCC,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia