EURYDICE at Langhorne Players Inspires Discussion

by Walter Bender

The Langhorne Players in Newtown have a slogan on their logo…”Plays Worth Talking About.” That is certainly the case with their newest offering, EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl. EURYDICE is a retelling of the classic tale from the title character’s point of view, and with some interesting additional characters. And the characters are not the only interesting additions…

Director Maurizio Giammarco has made some intriguing decisions in putting this show together. The set (beautifully designed and executed by Ken Junkins) is an emptied swimming pool, with sliding panels and trap doors to attend to various entrances during the story. The lighting is muted for the most part, with bluish accents to keep in tone with the storyline. There are few set pieces or props, with many of the hand props and scenery mimed. The accent is on the story and the performances of the actors, which are very solid.
The title character is played by Emily Murphy, who shows the playful loving side of Eurydice. She has an infectious smile and line delivery and uses both quite well. Patrick Albanesius portrays Orpheus, her music-obsessed husband who does everything he can to find Eurydice. He moves very fluidly, hearing the soundtrack of life in his head. Hans Peters plays Eurydice’s deceased father, a new character in this story, who is overjoyed to have his daughter with him in the underworld. Zac Anderson is both “A Nasty Interesting Man” and “Lord of the Underworld” and plays those with obvious enjoyment. The varied facets of the characters’ personalities shines through with each scene he appears in. Dana Maginity, Morgan Petronis and Liane Golightly play the 3 Stones, a Greek Chorus of sorts who inhabit the underworld, acting as advisors, assistants, and narrators as needed.

The show is performed without an intermission, running just over 90 minutes. It could be quicker than that, but for a number of blackouts to indicate passage of time or scene changes. I think many were unnecessary, and perhaps lowering the lights and allowing the actors to move in half-light would have proved more effective without losing the audiences’ attention. Many scenes were only a few seconds and the audience lost focus in the production with so many breaks in action. Also, I was a bit confused with the director’s decisions regarding which props were necessary and which could be mimed. A letter that was mimed in one scene appeared as a real piece of paper in the next. More consistency would not have proven as distracting to the storyline. And, while the use of running water onstage is quite an effects coup, it was one of the things that I think could just have easily been mimed and therefore the distracting sounds of the water running could be avoided.

Shows like this invite discussion and disagreement about choices the director makes, and this one is no exception. There are things I didn’t agree with as a director myself, but I understood what the motivation was. The audience seemed to agree with me, with many of them discussing what they just saw in hushed voices as we all left the theatre. And really, isn’t that what theatre is supposed to do…to inspire discussion, to make us all think?

I applaud Langhorne Players for consistently bringing lesser-known plays to their stage. EURYDICE is a very interesting twist on a classic tale, and worth a visit to the historic mill to go see.

by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Maurizio Giammarco
August 20 – September 4, 2010
Langhorne Players
The Spring Garden Mill
Route 332 (Richboro Road)
Newtown, PA 18940
(215) 860-0818  

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