By Jasmin Lee
Oakland Gardens, N.Y.
When Orpheus looked back, Eurydice disappeared — so did the audience.
Directed by Wesley Cornwell and written by award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice retells the myth of Orpheus and his wife in a modernized setting from Eurydice’s perspective.
The play was not memorable. The production did have some clever aspects and notable scenes supported by a strong cast. However, the modernization didn’t capture the essence of the original. The humor didn’t correlate with the narrative and some of the concepts were too abstract.
One of the issues was that the play felt like bait for a young audience. The first song of the play mixed Rihanna’s “Umbrella” with Gene Kelley’s “Singing in the Rain.” While I don’t have anything against mixing contemporary with classic, the mix felt entirely wrong.
The humor was dated and didn’t resonate with the audience. The original myth was a tragedy and trying to incorporate humor in such a heavy genre was risky. The tragedy was what made the myth a classic. Any attempt to lighten that central concept degrades the intent of the original.
Telling the story from Eurydice’s perspective was clever but poorly executed. She felt more like a prop for the actions of the male leads rather than a character in her own journey. She could have been a stronger female character if her actions didn’t boil down to the decision of which man she would follow for eternity.
There were some saving graces of the play. The cast was extremely skilled. One scene that stood out to me was Eurydice’s father imagining himself walking Eurydice down the aisle during her wedding. The music was an excellent component of the play and heavily emphasized the morose atmosphere during this scene. The stage’s design was unique—long blue strings and hanging umbrellas—that matched well with the set lighting.
I appreciated the playwright’s attempt to modernize Orpheus’ tale; however, it lacked the core atmosphere and tone that made the original a classic.
Instead of successfully guiding the audience into the story of Eurydice, the playwright ends up leaving the audience in the abyss.