EURYDICE Contemporized – All You Need is Love! at Players Club of Swarthmore’s Second Stage

by Lisa Panzer

Eurydice (Katherine Perry of Philadelphia) meets the Nasty Interesting Man (Jim Fryer of Lansdowne), who tells her he has a letter from her dead father, in EURYDICE on The Players Club of Swarthmore Theater's Second Stage.

EURYDICE, retold with a lyrical beauty by Sarah Ruhl, directed with love by Brian Boland, is the tale of Orpheus’s journey to the Underworld to recapture his wife, who has died on their wedding day. In Ruhl’s mellifluent retelling of this ancient Greek myth there is a strong focus on Eurydice’s part in the experience.  According to the Greek myth, Orpheus (Josiah Donnell) uses his beautiful gift of voice, singing in lament and thereby spellbinding the Lord of the Underworld (Jim Fryer) into agreeing to allow him a chance to bring Eurydice (Katherine Perry) back to the land of the living.  Even the Choir of Stones (wonderfull played by Roni Cibishino, Polly Rose Edelstein and Dani Lencioni) are moved to weeping by his music. Whether or not Orpheus used his gift in the wooing of Eurydice, she is not musically inclined, but is a thinker, book lover, and pursuer of interesting thoughts.  She says of her husband “…what it’s like to love to an artist – the Moon is always rising over your house.” Her husband points out to her when she is unable to clap out a beat “It’s dangerous not to have a sense of rhythm. You lose things when you can’t keep a simple beat”.  It is Eurydice who loses her way by following an Interesting Man who promises her something of interest to read.  Curiosity killed this cat; leading her astray.  

One of the most intriguing, of the many intriguing, aspects of this play is the exploration of character.  We are acquainted with the lovers’ respective differences right away.  It is clear that Orpheus is made of music, and Eurydice is a contemplater, but no matter, they are young and their hearts are of one accord. Josiah Donnell as Orpheus and Katherine Perry as Erydice delight as the young couple, and make us want to believe in their love.  However, on their wedding day along comes the CEO of Hades, lustfully, devilishly depicted by Jim Fryer, with a different idea.  He is a seller of snake oil, and oh, is he good!  After being lured to her death, Eurydice having been dipped in the River of Forgetfullness (Lethe), nevertheless is somehow moved by the “oar” of the boat which carried her, harkening a distant remembrance of… something?  Perry makes us want to tell her it is Orpheus, but of course it is not polite to do so during the show.  She arrives in the Underworld proper via a leaky elevator and carrying an umbrella, to a chorus from the Stones on Underworld etiquette such as how to speak the language of the dead as though speaking through your pores.  Cibishino, Edelstein and Lencioni as the Stones are a hit, providing much comic relief and color to the Underworld.  Eurydice’s father (Kevin Doerr) is there to greet her as well, but she takes him for a bellhop and promptly orders a room.  Although the Stones ‘regale’ her with rules of the Underworld  “…there are no rooms”, her father sees to fashioning her a room using some twine.  Doerr’s patience and wisdom as Eurydice’s father exactly projects the unconditional love a parent feels for a child.  Meanwhile, up above, Orpheus’s sunny disposition has paled as he moons over the loss of his bride.  Donnell’s display of determination, emotion and passion are quite convincing.  He is singing songs of lament, but is also determining various means to find her, including calling “Information”. He has even worked out ways to get letters to her, and with the aid of her father, Eurydice begins to reminisce. The force of Orpheus’ love is so powerful that with a will he does find her.  The characters in this story develop during their journeys, and are well developed via cast and director.
Kudos on the production design for a beautiful blending and usage of lighting, functionality of set and excellent use of space, props, music (Brian Boland, Ellen Wilson Dilks, Danielle Gowen), and sound (Caitlin Fontecchio) which worked well on the senses, enhancing the overall experience.  Costuming was well done (Miriam Boland); the Stone’s costumes in particular were outstanding.  The inclusion of a bust of Elvis is a real nice touch! 
Don’t miss out on this lovely tale of love!
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Brian Boland
March 4 – March 19, 2011
Players Club of Swarthmore’s Second Stage
614 Fairview Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081

You may also like

Leave a Reply