June Show Review: Eurydice

Ok, so I didn’t get a show review written for May, but the show I was working on is better suited for June (the month of Father’s Day) anyways, so here goes:


In her play Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and his bride Eurydice. The myth states that Orpheus’ music charmed all living things and even stones. When his wife Eurydice dies, he travels down to the underworld and plays such sad music that Hades and Persephone allow him to take Eurydice back to the land of the living on one condition: she must walk behind him, and he cannot turn to look at her until they are both safely in the upper world. As you can probably guess, he turns to look at her too soon, and consequently, she is sent back to the underworld forever.

Sarah Ruhl adds a twist to this story. [Skip ahead to the YouTube clip if you want to avoid overt plot SPOILERS.] In her version, Eurydice’s father is already in the underworld. In fact, he is one of the few dead people who remember their former life, as well as how to read and write. When Eurydice dies on her wedding day, she passes through the river and loses all her memories as most people do. Despite the nagging of some very persistent talking stones, Eurydice’s father finds her and teaches her to remember everything, and soon the two are happily reunited.

When Orpheus comes to rescue her, Eurydice’s father leads her to him as if he is walking her down the aisle. He reminds her to walk quietly behind Orpheus so he won’t turn around, but as her father leaves her, Eurydice panics. She loves Orpheus, but she is hesitant to leave her father and scared to return to the land of the living. So she creeps close behind him and calls his name, startling him into turning around. Now she is doomed to remain in the underworld.

Meanwhile, in Eurydice’s absence, her father decides that the memories are too painful.  “How does a person remember to forget,” he muses. He decides to dip himself in the river, and by the time Eurydice finds him again, he can’t remember who she is.

Cue me crying forever.

Sarah Ruhl’s beautiful language really helps this evocative play come to life. My favorite quote reads, “This is what it is to love an artist: The moon is always rising above your house. The houses of your neighbors look dull and lacking in moonlight. But he is always going away from you. Inside his head there is always something more beautiful.”

The other incredible facet of this play is the set design. Set designs with water always impress me, because I know how many complications they entail. But in this case, I think even those without backstage knowledge will find it visually impressive. Here’s a clip of the show when it opened Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater:

Have any of you seen this play? What did you think?