The UW drama and speech communication department brought Eurydice, a play by Sarah Ruhl based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, to life in the Theatre of the Arts from Nov. 16-19.
The original myth centred on Orpheus, who goes to the underworld and plays a song to convince Hades to allow Eurydice, his dead wife, to return with him. But instead of only seeing Orpheus’ side of the story, Ruhl’s play focuses on Eurydice’s perspective in a modern retelling.
Each actor was able to show and develop their character, from the Lord of the Underworld (John Krukowski), who starts off as eccentric and immature, to Orpheus (Erik Van Dijk), who is pushed into the role of a secondary character, but still plays an important role in Eurydice’s story.
“I really kind of wanted to highlight almost like this kind of controlling nature. You kind of see a lot of it in the physicality of the dance gestures and in the first scene, the way that he’s physically just all very risky,” Dijk said, discussing Orpheus. “And that’s kind of what it’s like for Eurydice in the story — it’s all about him and not about her.”
When Eurydice (Kelly Hornung) dies and becomes a blank slate when entering into the underworld, Eurydice’s father (Darius Hahn), who was able to preserve his memory, becomes her mentor. As the play goes on, Eurydice starts questioning her love for Orpheus and it becomes her choice of whether she should stay in the underworld or go with him back to the surface.
In the underworld, she meets the three Stones — Little Stone (Alyssa Almeida), Big Stone (Mira J. Henderson), and Loud Stone (Abbi Longmire) — who act mockingly towards her and her father. They tell Eurydice what to do and what not to do, even insulting and laughing at her.
“Matt [White] came up with the idea of them kind of being the mean girls of the underworld. So, we’re essentially just bullies who want peace and quiet and want to manipulate the situation, but we don’t really have power over it,” Longmire said. “The thing that I really connect to with the stones is the fact that they’re kind of representative of societal expectations of women and how society will victim blame or anything like that.”
The play also made use of video to bring the setting of the scene to life, as well as dancing and music to convey what is happening during the scene.
“We wanted to look at how it would actually sit in the background and still breathe and not be so pressing,” director Matt White said. “The video became an answer to how do we show the love, how do we show another love. So in all of those videos, especially early on, it’s very much a romantic nature of love.”
The next play in the Theatre of the Arts, Arresting Rape Culture, will run from March 15-19.
This article has been updated to provide the correct name of actor Darius Hahn, who played the role of Eurydice’s father.