Eurydice

By Sarah Ruhl

Directed by Geoff Elliott

Mar 9 – May 19, 2013

CRITIC'S CHOICE - Los Angeles Times

GO! - LA Weekly
“Sheer stagecraft…DAZZLING.”- Los Angeles Times

Pulitzer Prize Nominee Sarah Ruhl uses a hauntingly unique poetic style to re-tell the classic Greek myth of Orpheus through the eyes of his new wife, Eurydice – a magical experience with gripping emotional potency.

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes (no intermission)

Brief Synopsis

Based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice explores the myth in a new light, focusing on Eurydice’s perspective. Eurydice, about to be married to her lover Orpheus, dies shortly after her wedding. Eurydice enters the Underworld, where she meets her father, but she has lost her memory. Through language, her father lovingly tells her about her past life. A chorus of stones attempts to convince Eurydice to stay in the Underworld, speaking the language of the dead. Meanwhile, Orpheus grieves for Eurydice and devises a way to see her in the Underworld. However, the Lord of the Underworld stipulates that he must walk back to the world of the living without looking back at Eurydice. Eurydice must choose between a world which includes her father or a world which includes her husband. 

Extended Synopsis

Two young lovers, Orpheus and Eurydice, profess their love to each other. Orpheus, a talented musician, tries to teach Eurydice a melody from a song he wrote for her, but Eurydice cannot feel the rhythm. She prefers reading to music. However, she promises to always remember the melody. Orpheus ties a string around her fourth finger so that she will never forget his love.

Eurydice’s Father, who is dead, reads a letter full of advice for his daughter. He tells her that he is one of the few people in the underworld who still remember how to read and write. He drops the letter in a mail slot and imagines his daughter’s wedding day.

After wandering away from her wedding party, Eurydice stands before a water pump and wishes there were more interesting guests. The Nasty Interesting Man appears and invites her to a party with more interesting people, but Eurydice declines. However, he returns again and entices her with a letter from her father, which he claims got delivered to his address by mistake. Reluctantly, Eurydice follows the man into his apartment. The man professes his love to Eurydice. She steals the letter from him and runs towards the stairs. She trips, falls down a flight of six hundred stairs, and dies.

At the entrance of the underworld, a chorus of three stones announce Eurydice’s arrival. Eurydice is bewildered and transitions from speaking the language of the living to the language of dead people, the language of stones. She imagines taking a trip by train. Eurydice’s father meets her. She does not recognize him. He pretends to be the porter of the train and builds her a room made of string and invites her in. In the land of the living, Orpheus writes letters and music to Eurydice. Eurydice receives the letters and a book but does not know how to read them. Eurydice’s Father reads her Orpheus’ letters and teaches her what the words are. She and her father share stories and memories.

When they start to remember music by singing, the stones become disturbed. They command Eurydice’s father to stop singing and go back to work. While Eurydice is alone, a child, the Lord of the Underworld, comes by on his tricycle. He checks to see if Eurydice is comfortable and informs her that rooms and fathers are not allowed in the underworld. He threatens to dip her in the river again.

Eurydice tells her father about her memories of Orpheus. Meanwhile, Orpheus devises a plan to get to the underworld by singing. He writes her a letter which she receives and can read. Orpheus sings his way to the gates of hell and knocks. The Lord of the Underworld, still a child, greets Orpheus. Orpheus asks what he must do to have Eurydice go with him. The Lord of the Underworld tells him to start walking home without looking back under any circumstances.Eurydice hears her husband at the gate and wants to go with him, but is concerned to leave her father behind. Her father reassures her and urges her to go with Orpheus. He leaves her with one final piece of advice – Orpheus cannot turn around to see her, so she must not make any sound. She is afraid and uncertain but she follows behind Orpheus. They walk for awhile, but then Eurydice decides to catch up to Orpheus. She calls Orpheus’ name questioningly and he looks back, breaking the terms of the contract.

Eurydice returns to the underworld, only to find that her string room has been dismantled and her Father has dipped himself in the river of forgetfulness. The Lord of the Underworld, now grown, and tells Eurydice he has chosen her as his bride. She asks for a moment to prepare herself and writes a letter to Orpheus, places it on the ground, and dips herself in the river. Orpheus arrives in the underworld, recognizes Eurydice, and goes to her. It rains on him and he forgets. He finds her letter but cannot read it.