Eurydice comes alive in the Theatre Building

BY JOSIE JONES | MARCH 04, 2010 7:30 AM

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In Sarah Ballema’s version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, the characters slip on banana peels as they are walking out of the Underworld. Along with a few classmates, Ballema wrote and performed the myth as puppet theater in ninth grade.

Now, 21 years later, Ballema is directing the play Eurydice as told from playwright Sarah Ruhl’s perspective. The show will open at 8 p.m. today in the Theatre Building’s Thayer Theatre. The play will run through March 14 with Thursday through Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2 p.m. Admission ranges from $5 to $17.

Eurydice is loosely based on the Orpheus myth told from Eurydice’s perspective. The play begins with the two getting married. Shortly after the wedding, Eurydice falls to her death (in Ovid’s version, she is bitten by a venomous snake) and is reconnected with her father upon arriving in the underworld.

Orpheus soon ventures after Eurydice, asking the Lord of the underwold to allow her to return with him. His wish is granted, with the condition that he not look at her until they reach the upper world. As they are leaving, Eurydice calls out Orpheus’ name, and he turns around, sees her, and loses her forever.

“It’s your classic love story with a really imaginative, fun twist,” Ballema said.

Fitting in the romantic genre, an aspect that attracted the 35-year-old director to Eurydice was Ruhl’s feminine voice. Ballema said that actors respond differently to the playwright’s writing because of her style, evoking more emotions than other female playwrights do.

While based on a myth, the play is set in contemporary times. However, the ’50s fashion costumes do reference mythical elements, and the set mimics a “bizarre Alice in Wonderland world,” Ballema said.

The 90-minute production balances different rhythms and tempos, something the director said the cast has struggled with.

“Some of the play is very sweet and tender and some of it is fast and furious,” Ballema said. “We’re still finding those shifts and letting things be both sad and funny at the same time, even when it feels inappropriate.”

Although Eurydice balances many emotions, actor Deanna Brookens feels audiences will respond to the show, hwich centers on love and loss.

“I think a lot of people can relate to the uncertainties that come with romantic love,” the 25-year-old graduate student said. “And the certainty that comes with parental love. And the struggling with losing loved ones.”

Because of the plot’s highly relatable characteristic, Ballema thinks a wide array of the community will enjoy the classic love story Eurydice offers.

“If anyone is looking to impress a date with a good selection for an evening, this is a great choice,” she said.

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