EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl
|Background L to R: Kelly Ehlert (Loud Stone), Abigail Marks (Big Stone) and Jessie Losch (Little Stone), Ryan Vincent Anderson (Lord of the Underworld), Geoff Elliott (Father) & Jules Willcox (Eurydice) Photo by Craig Schwarz|
A Noise Within opens its second show of the current season with playwright Sarah Ruhl’s modern take on the mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Thanks to the company for a relatively simple and straightforward approach to the myth. Forgive me.. a myth is as good as a smile. Lighthearted approach to the story of Eurydice’s (lithe Jules Wilcox's) enticement into the Underworld and Orpheus’s (Graham Sibley’s) heroic attempts to return her to the land of the living work out in creative ways. The traditional Greek Chorus become a Chorus of Stones: Little Stone (smallish Jessie Losch), Big Stone (biggish Abigail Marks) and LOUD STONE (VERY LOUD Kelly Ehlert) seated on a wall in Hell.
(Click on photo for full image)
Thanks to The Golden Bough and wading through The Humanities, most of us are at least nodding acquaintances with Eurydice and Orpheus. Tennessee Williams’ play, Orpheus Descending, touches on the same story. A beautiful young maiden lost to the dark forces and the forces of Light heroically finding a way to rescue her.
Ruhl’s examination of the myth via ANW director Geoff Elliott’s spare hand (he also plays Eurydice’s father, long since sent to the Underworld) graces the stage with a few too many black outs, but continuity manages to remain intact. The Father misses his daughter so much that he finds a way to send her a message from Hell to the land of the living.
Brilliant and funny, Ryan Vincent Anderson as A Nasty, Interesting Man, (returning later as Lord of the Underworld) coaxes Eurydice to join him down below by intercepting her father’s letter. (Why she doesn’t see it near a water pump where it’s fallen was a little odd). But! Eurydice descends via a very clever elevator to the depths of Hell where a leaky roof and the Three Stone Chorus prevail. Father creates a “room” in the Underworld (where no rooms are allowed) for love of his daughter. Clever staging aided by Meghan Gray’s lights and Seth Walter’s projections bring the spare gray stage to life. Projection design by Brian Gale.
Orpheus is a musician, however, we never see him play. We do learn that he always has music on his mind, when not engaged with loving Eurydice. Beautiful violin melodies permeate the space, thanks to Endre Balogh. His original strains create a mood for and from the shadows.
In stark contrast to recent productions at A Noise Within, this one comes in at ninety minutes without an intermission. There are strong performances throughout. Questioning the reasoning of myth is a fool’s errand because rules for some things are just ‘because.’ One should enjoy this lively production… just because.
The lobby of the Pasadena theatre is currently hung with large artworks in oil by Michael Allyn Roy on the theme of Monsters and Maidens and When The Gods Were Young. I applaud The Elliotts and staff for championing artwork that parallels the theme of this current production. Bringing graphic arts into the theatre creates an atmosphere of engagement before the show. Hopefully, the ANW lobby will entertain more local artists in the future.
EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl
A Noise Within
3352 East Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
Three plays in repertory through May 26, 2013
Tickets and information
626 356 3100