Eurydice Review - A Beautiful and Haunting Modern Greek Myth

  

Janeane Bowlware

 

Promethean Theatre Ensemble presents Eurydice, written by acclaimed playwright Sarah Ruhl and directed by Nicole Hand. This modern retelling of the classic Greek myth of Eurydice and her husband Orpheus reframes the story from the perspective of the doomed bride. Eloquent, haunting, and heartbreaking, Eurydice meditates on death, memory, loss, love, and nostalgia in one beautiful ninety-minute story.

 

L-R: Meghann Tabor, Susie Griffith, Janeane Bowlware, Sandy Elias, Brendan Hutt

 

Orpheus and Eurydice are a sweet, if occasionally argumentative, couple, whose engagement and subsequent wedding easily charm the audience and set up the emotional resonance of the tragedy to come. After following a mysterious man to his apartment on her wedding day, tempted by the promise of receiving a letter from her dead father, Eurydice falls down a flight of stairs and dies. Upon entering the underworld, she encounters her father and rekindles her long-lost connection with him. Meanwhile, Orpheus searches desperately for a way to find his wife and bring her back to the world of the living.

 

L-R: Jordan Golding, Janeane Bowlware

 

The play blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. The rules of the underworld are both outlined and left open-ended by the underworld's guardians, the three Stones, which creates a sense of mystery even as Eurydice and her father's transgression of reminiscing about the past in an environment that encourages forgetfulness is revealed. The Lord of the Underworld, presented primarily as a small child in a sailor suit riding a bicycle, is chilling not in spite of but because of his innocuous appearance.

 

L-R: Jared Dennis, Janeane Bowlware, Brendan Hutt

 

The language of the play is as melodic as Orpheus' music, and Ruhl's writing is evocative of the poetry of Greek playwrights even as it embraces contemporary speech. It is a testament to Ruhl's skill that, much like the tendency to hope Romeo and Juliet will survive this time in spite of the knowledge that they will not, it is possible to hope, even knowing the ending of the myth, that Eurydice will successfully follow Orpheus out of the underworld. This makes it all the more tragic when she fails.

 

L-R: Jared Dennis, Janeane Bowlware

 

Promethean Theatre Ensemble's production also features strong acting work across the board. Janeane Bowlware successfully leads the production as Eurydice with a vulnerable and sincere portrayal of the suffering heroine. Jordan Golding captures both Orpheus' flighty, artistic nature and his fierce determination to rescue his wife with skill.

 

L-R: Janeane Bowlware, Susie Griffith, Brendan Hutt, Meghann Tabor

 

Sandy Elias' portrayal of Eurydice's father is perhaps the most compelling and tragic in the play. Jared Dennis is perfectly sinister as the Nasty/Interesting Man and commands the stage with his presence every time he enters. The chorus of Stones (played by Susie Griffith, Meghann Tabor, and Brendan Hutt) create an eerie presence as witnesses to the events that unfold. Perhaps the only thing lacking in this ensemble is the presence of diversity.

 

Sandy Elias

 

Sound design by Eric Backus is essential to the storytelling, offering both a beautiful take on the key component of Orpheus' music and creating atmosphere and environment with a continuous soundscape. Costumes by Gary Nocco take Eurydice through the stages of the story, slowly bringing her from vibrant reds to simple, pale whites. Set design by Jeremiah Barr features incomplete brick walls and plastic shower curtain liners, which seem like an odd choice, but nevertheless, the overall set design seems to work.

 

L-R: Jordan Golding, Janeane Bowlware, Sandy Elias

 

Eurydice is a beautiful and haunting feminist take on a classic Greek myth, and Promethean Theatre Ensemble's production captures its spirit well. This play is absolutely worth seeing.

 

L-R: Sandy Elias, Janeane Bowlware, Susie Griffith, Brendan Hutt

 

Ticket Information

Location: Athenaeum Theatre, Studio One, 2936 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago

Dates: January 6 - February 11, 2017

Times: Performances Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm.

Industry night performance Monday, January 16 at 7:00 pm

Tickets: Adults $27.00, Seniors 65+ $22, Students/Children $17. Online at the Promethean Theatre website or by phone at 773-935-6875.

 

All photos by Tom McGrath, TCMcG Photography

 

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