Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Review: Eurydice

Victory Gardens
Through November 9th

It may not be fair to Victory Gardens that I am writing a response to their production of this writer's favorite play. First let me say, that the story of the play came through in this production. It's emotional resonance, however, was impeded by what looked like an attempt to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Eurydice is set in an abstract world that is perhaps more akin to Alice in Wonderland than every day life. But in this production things seemed to be unnecessarily strange and sterile.

There were too many straight lines in the design. The set forced the early part of the play to act on a two-dimensional level. When the set opened up, there was nothing that popped or brought delight to the play. Despite a raining elevator, bathtub, ladder, and balloons, there was little to fill out the playful and mysterious world that Sarah Ruhl created. The lights were well modeled and created a sense of beauty, but with little scenic elements to play upon, their effect was diminished.

The role of the Nasty Interesting Man was grossly miscast. Beau O'Riley did well in his character role, but did not fit the character. The Nasty Interesting Man should echo all the fairy tales of the Big Bad Wolf rather than the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. In the scene of Eurydice's death, there was no sexual danger - we should be afraid for her safety. And when he becomes the Lord of the Underworld, he should be a spoiled little kid who doesn't get his way. O'Riley was not the type for this role and the error reflects more on a misinterpretation of the directing team than any fault of the actor.

The stones were played as crotchety old people who were cranky at the life and vigor Eurydice and her Father show in the underworld. The interpretation works and still produced several laughs out of the audience, but goes directly against Ruhl's description of the stones as children at a birthday party.

This play is made by the performance of Joe D. Lauck as Eurydice's Father. Tender and sad, Lauck is able to convey a father's undying love for his daughter as he teaches her to remember her life after her death as a father would teach a child to read. The moment when he gives her away to Orpheus who comes to rescue her and bring her back to the land of the living.

This play is definitely worth seeing; the script is wonderful in its beauty and simplicity. I am saddened by Victory Garden's dry interpretation. This play tell such a rich story and to see it fall flat is frustrating. I feel bad for the audience members who have no previous knowledge of the script to have this be their first exposure. I can understand them walking away feeling that they didn't get this more avant-garde piece and feeling confused. This is not a good feeling to let you audience walk away with. This is where theatre can be characterized as stuff, not accessible, and dense when with this piece, the audience should be moved by the resonance of a simple story.

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