This past Friday, I walked into the Balch Arena Theater with a rather jovial mood and a bright and sunny outlook on life. I left the theater, however, wallowing in some uninvited sadness and trying to understand how in a mere two hours, my entire disposition had changed.
Eurydice, written by Sarah Ruhl, is a modern retelling of the Greek tragedy, depicting the love-struck Orpheus’ sorrow alongside the struggle of his deceased wife (for whom the play is named) to come to terms with her own demise. As with any adaptation, there are some differences between the original tale and what the contemporary audience sees on stage. While the Greek myth focuses on Orpheus’ musical redemption, Ruhl’s production puts Eurydice under the magnifying glass, trying to understand the time she spends in the underworld and how to retain what seems lost.
3Ps took on this ambitious script for the major fall production, which ran from November 14-16. Even though Greek theatre is no small performance feat, the cast and crew of Eurydice made their production organic and accessible. From the tearfully read letters to the actual running water on stage, 3Ps married the historical legend and the raw grievance that has transcended the centuries.
I had seen a production of this same play a few years prior, so although I had a smile plastered across my face when I sat down in my seat, I prepared myself for the eventual emotional downturn I’d experience during the performance. I thought that, because I knew the arc of the plot and had studied the show before, I would not be as affected by it as I was the first time.
I was sorely mistaken.
There were a few tears shed throughout the evening as the themes of family, love, and loss all plucked at particular memories for me. However, I wasn’t alone in my somber mood. When the house lights finally rose at the end of the show, I saw a few hands wiping eyes even throughout the well-deserved applause. When the Greeks say that a story is a tragedy, they certainly are not lying.
Even though I left the show feeling far too many things at once, I was reminded why theatre is great even when it revives unwanted sentiments. Eurydice is a fine theatrical specimen in which the ending is completely undesirable and it angers you because you care so much about the characters and their stories that you forget, for a moment, the memories that the plot triggers in your own head.
Bravo, to the cast and crew for a night of truly beautiful theatre.