Eurydice Logo


Written by Sarah Ruhl

Directed by Amber Jackson

When the playwright Sarah Ruhl works at home, she sits at a desk in her young daughter Anna's bedroom, beside a window overlooking a paddletennis court amid a red brick apartment maze on the East Side of Manhattan. A white gate, like a picket fence, stretches across the width of the small room, dividing the toddler's play area from her mother's. Ruhl, who is thirty-four and has already won a half-million-dollar MacArthur Fellowship for her plays (which include The Clean House, a comedy that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005), writes in a poised, crystalline style about things that are irrational and invisible. Ruhl is a fabulist. Her plays celebrate what she calls "the pleasure of heightened things." In them, fish walk and caper (Passion Play), stones talk and weep (Eurydice), a dog is a witness to and the narrator of a family tragedy (Dog Play), a woman turns into an almond (Melancholy Play). Ruhl's characters occupy, she has said, "the real world and also a suspended state."

In her weird and wonderful new play, Eurydice, the gifted young writer Sarah Ruhl has adapted this mournful legend with a fresh eye, concentrating not on the passionate pilgrimage of Orpheus to retrieve his bride but on Eurydice's descent into the jaws of death. What she finds there, and what she learns about love, loss and the pleasures and pains of memory, is the subject of Ms. Ruhl's tender-hearted comedy, which premiered in June of 2007 at the Second Stage Theater in a rhapsodically beautiful production directed by Les Waters.

Ms. Ruhl's theatrical vision is an idiosyncratic one. She is not a journalist of domestic life, as so many playwrights today seem to be, but an adventurer who is not afraid to blend the quotidian and the fantastic, deep feeling and airy whimsy.

The fabled creatures of Eurydice may look like people you've seen on the subway, but they speak in images plucked from the blue sky of their mythic imaginations. You might almost wish there were subtitles here, alerting you to the inner meaning of the lyrical, illogical and, yes, sometimes overly quirky dialogue. (The most sensibly spoken characters onstage are probably the blunt-spoken chorus of stones, strange creatures with pea-green faces, in Victorian garb, who keep telling Eurydice to shut up and get used to being dead.)

"What happiness it would be to cry," Eurydice says when she enters the underworld and discovers that she's lost her grasp on emotional response, along with her memory. Perhaps more than anything else, the eerie wonderland of Eurydice evokes the discombobulating experience of grief and loss, the desperate need to move on and the overwhelming desire never to let go - to turn and look back just one more time.

"Like all fine poems, songs, and paintings, it's a love letter to the world that deserves to be remembered for a good, long time."
New York Times



November 11-15 at 7:30 p.m.
November 16 at 2 p.m.
Mabee Theatre

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Cast
Eurydice
Orpheus
Father
Nasty Interesting Man
Little Stone
Big Stone
Loud Stone

Student Production Staff
Director
Stage Manager
Lisa Chapa
Assistant Stage Manager
Technical Director
Tyler Lea
Assistant Costume Designer
Toni Portacci

Faculty Production Staff
Set Designer
Bill Sherry
Costume Designer
Adrienne Harper
Sound Designer
Adam Redmer
Lighting Designer
JoJo Percy


Click here to read the press release for Eurydice as printed in the Waco Tribune Herald.

Baylor's "Eurydice" thoughtful if lumpy

By Carl Hoover, Waco Tribune-Herald
November 12, 2008

Playwright Sarah Ruhl's "Eurydice," whose Baylor Theatre production opened its seven-performance run Tuesday night, treats love and loss in a play like a cigar box of mementos. Inside are metaphors, symbols, ironic asides and jokes, objects to examine in turn, then put back and remembered in place of an even-tempered narrative.

In "Eurydice," she reframes the Greek myth of Orpheus traveling to the Underworld for his love Eurydice to a tale from Eurydice's point of view: How would it feel to lose one's lover not once, but twice, and what if regaining life meant losing something in death?

It's a provocative, bittersweet piece and director Amber Jackson's production, anchored by Kara Killmer's sweetly sympathetic Eurydice, nicely marries an imaginative visual sense to rich symbols and characters all beguiling in their way. That's not to say "Eurydice" is consistent or answers all the questions it raises. But life, too, is maddening, obtuse and lovely, Ruhl implies.

On the day she marries her musically obsessed Orpheus (a charming Justin Locklear), Eurydice is lured away from their party by a tall, dark Nasty Man (Sky Bennett), who carries a letter from her dead father (Sam Hough). Her father, it turns out, hasn't drunk fully of the Underworld's waters of forgetfulness and still longs for his daughter. Above, in the world of the living, she stumbles on the stairs and dies.

Eurydice arrives in the Underworld via an elevator in which it rains on the inside, but doesn't recognize her father. Three Stones (Zach Krohn, Brittany Howard and Lindsay Erhhardt), by turns sardonic and scolding, remind her that the language of the Underworld, the language of stones, has no words like father, room, husband.

Her father's words and later Orpheus' music (including a song written by Locklear) spark her memory of the life she left, to the chagrin of the Stones and the Lord of the Underworld (a forceful, but petulant Bennett, garbed as an English schoolboy and riding a trike. Whatever.). The Lord grants Orpheus permission to lead Eurydice back to the living world, but she finds regaining her husband means losing her father. In the end, the waters of forgetfulness and the language of stones find their place.

Ruhl's play, written after the death of her father, has Eurydice as the most realized character, but Orpheus and the father are thinner in comparison. That leaves the play's symbolism and metaphor - particularly the Underworld as a place where words and music bring unwanted Memory - as the most meaningful objects in the box.

The Baylor production's visual sense brings that out, thanks to Bill Sherry's clean, spare design, JoJo Percy's lighting work and Adam Redmer's sound. Adrienne Harper's costuming of the Stones (in weathered clothes from three centuries) combined with Victoria Eisele's makeup (skin tones of greys, blues and purples, I think) is a brilliant collaboration, by the way. I'd love to see Halloween in their hands.