"A fascinating shift of focus"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 28/10/16

Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice is a beautifully lyrical re-imagining of the Orpheus & Eurydice myth. Shifting the perspective of the story to make Eurydice the central character gives us a fresh angle from which to explore themes not often associated with the ‘original’ (at least, not by me); this is aided and enhanced by Ruhl’s changes and additions to the classic versions - notably the addition - Eurydice’s Father, and a change to the moment Orpheus looks back.
I suppose some people might object to the alteration of a ‘classic’ myth - but myth is malleable simply because of it’s antiquity, there are already various tellings and interpretations of this one and Ruhl’s is a welcome addition.
In keeping with the mythic subject matter this play could be set with any (or possibly a mix) of periods in mind; though the script points toward a 1950’s theme for costume and Cygnet has stuck to this; the set is suitably free of indication of place or time. It is a series of blank spaces (platforms, floor, ladder, water, rear wall with lift doors and window) in which the actors can work their magic.
And does the magic happen? To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure. The opening scene of romance between our two lovers seemed - not wooden, but somehow removed from the real. As the show progresses though and the lyrical nature of the text takes hold I realised this is the right way to play it: this is not a naturalist kitchen sink drama, it is a physical and poetic telling of myth - an exploration of themes. My main criticism was that I think the Nasty Interesting Man (Scott Simpson) could have been more aggressively and physically seductive; however, for Cousin V (who accompanied me last night), Scott was the star of the show. I did enjoy his portrayal of the Child or Lord of the Underworld. For me though, the star was Guy Dennys playing Eurydice’s Father; a kind, wise father whose love for his daughter survives immersion in the river of forgetfulness on his journey to the land of the dead - an immersion which will eventually cleanse all such connection to the living world from the souls of both Eurydice and Orpheus.
Jessica Parsons plays Eurydice with beautiful innocence, fatally torn between two loves, that for her father and that for her husband. Two images or scenes stand out for me as particularly poignant and the first of these is Eurydice, before her wedding, remembering / imagining her father’s presence.
Jake Sullivan plays Orpheus with great skill, switching effortlessly between his own inner dream world of music and his passion for Eurydice. The second stand out image in the play for me was of Orpheus, seen in the window in the back wall exhaling himself into the Land of the Dead to seek her. Very simple, very beautiful.
I have always thought of Orpheus’ journey to the underworld as being about the power of his obsessional love and the consequences of his failure to keep faith. In shifting our focus to the heroine and introducing the father Ruhl enables us to examine her anguish in having to decide between remaining with her father in the world of the dead - a land of stones - and returning with her husband to the world of the living. She is the center of her father’s world - he is willing to disrupt ant subvert the order of the universe to protect and comfort her. In the living world she will always share center of Orpheus’ life with his beloved music.
She is also given a level of autonomy and control of her own destiny not often afforded her. This autonomy comes at a price however, does she cry out to Orpheus as she follows him out of a desire to catch up or is it a final stab of uncertainty? Either way the result is inevitable.
This play is about great love, grief and choices. It tells us that, no matter what we hope we cannot always hang on to those we love; it also gives us hope that despite having to let go physically, the love itself may well endure if it is strong, but there is a cost and we may wish to forget.
An beautiful and stimulating re-telling, excellently performed by the Cygnet company.

Add Your review?

Have your say, add your review

Other recent reviews by remotegoat reviewer
Dead Sheep
YES. YES. YES. Simply Marvellous by remotegoat reviewer
Eggs
How d'you like your eggs? by remotegoat reviewer
Skin Deep
welcome to the new nostagia by remotegoat reviewer
Joy
A young woman's empowering journey by remotegoat reviewer
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Programme revival lacks original charm by remotegoat reviewer