Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Update of ‘Eurydice’ from Ancient Greek Myth Scheduled in Marinette

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Theatre on the Bay will present “Eurydice,” a modern adaptation of the myth from ancient Greece” in six performances starting next week.

The play by Sarah Ruhl will be presented in Herbert L. Williams Theatre of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Marinette Campus.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 10; 2 p.m. Nov. 11; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, 17; and 2 p.m. Nov. 18. Info: uwgb.edu/marinette/life-on-campus/fine-performing-arts/theatre/.

Ruhl brings the Orpheus myth to Eurydice’s perspective.

Eurydice dies tragically on her wedding day and journeys to the underworld. After a dip into the river Styx erases most of her memory, she struggles to piece together her past and reconnect with her dead father even as Orpheus works desperately to find a way to help her escape the advances of the Lord of the Underworld.

The play is described as an inventive, touching and funny exploration of memory, loss and love.

Orpheus is the figure of immense talent in ancient Greek mythology who just wouldn’t listen and ended up failing in his attempt to retrieve Eurydice from the underworld because he looked back.

Ruhl’s version adds Eurydice’s father as a major character.

The character Eurydice at first is something of a ditz who is enamored of Orpheus and all the wondrous things he does and creates for her to impress her and gain her heart. Their mutual love emerges.

Eurydice’s father, simply called Father, is introduced. He reads a letter he has written for Eurydice filled with encouragement and truisms about such things all things in moderation, dogs are good and the best ways to grill – warm and comical at the same time. This is a contemporary father; he makes reference to a light bulb.

Father says, “I write you letters. I don’t know how to get them to you.”

Father lets go of the letter in his hand, and it falls to the ground, where he leaves it. Soon, the letter is found by the Lord of the Underworld.

Eventually, the letter, taken from the Lord of the Underworld by Eurydice and read by her, becomes Eurydice’s ticket to death. Eurydice meets her father, though at first she does not recognize him as such.

Ruhl’s play becomes a father-daughter thing. They share time together. It could be about duck hunting or Father’s penchant for big words. Their river is the Mississippi. There is a clear bond between the two. Orpheus still is admired and desired from afar for Eurydice, but Father is the magnet.

The Lord of the Underworld is creepy, smarm, enticing and particularly chilling as written by Ruhl. He is tempting like ads for miracle cures while being a walking set of fine print you didn’t bother to read but should have. His every word is deceptive. You expect less from the gatekeeper of Hell?

Ruhl employs a Greek chorus through three stones. Loud Stone, Big Stone and Little Stone sometimes speak in unison and sometimes in sequence as these rolling stones advise about the rules of the underworld, give warning or provide narration/background. Along the way, Ruhl and the Stones delve into philosophy/concepts.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays.

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