Additional Commentary: Eurydice

Liv Combe, Moze Halperin, and Jimmy Hagan

Jimmy Hagan, Arts Editor

He saw the letters of his daughter’s name in the space in between the rain. Purified in the River Lethe of all memory, Eurydice’s father could see something in the water as it drizzled in the Underworld. While Barney O’Hanlon’s strong hand undoubtedly steered the show and an electrifying stage, costume and sound design gave us unforgettable moments, it was superior playwriting that ultimately elevated the show to that syrupy transcendent level we all enjoyed so much. Brief when it wanted to be and razor sharp when it had to be, Sarah Ruhl’s script laid the groundwork for an experience audiences dream of. Oberlin directors should take note: Letting the writer do the heavy lifting can make everyone look good.

But seriously, Oberlin theatergoers tend to cling to those productions so powerful that they devastated the rest of a Saturday night. Despite the sheer number of performances on campus, there are truly few and far between that make us want to keep the ticket stub. Aesthetically breathtaking and emotionally astounding,Euydice established a new standard from which every subsequent Oberlin theater production should be judged.

Moze Halperin, Staff Writer

Last weekend’s riveting production of Eurydice featured a compelling deviation from Oberlin theater’s usual conceptions of set. Through their usage as set pieces, the actors playing the chorus of stones were able to dehumanize themselves while maintaining their human form and garb. Although they were playing a chorus of Stones — an idea that, in the hands of a more literal director, could have easily elicited tacky, elementary-school-Thanksgiving-pageant characterization — the actors inEurydice worked with shape as a means of hinting at character.

None of the members of the chorus were without a distinct yet horrifyingly hollow personality, highlighted and sculpted by the inimitable Chris Flaherty’s costume design and the meticulous, character-suggesting poses struck every few minutes. At these moments, the actors took advantage of their training in the Suzuki and Viewpoints methods to the fullest extent, embodying the Stones to static, stony perfection.

From a viewer’s perspective of all the involved players it seemed the Suzuki training paid off most in the austerity of the Stones. Here, the fruit of a month’s training in the endurance of physical duress was gorgeously visible in the actors’ stillness and in the abrupt shifts that shattered it.

Through her twist on the classical trope of the chorus, writer Sarah Ruhl found a way to objectify the Stones while personifying the set; director Barney O’Hanlon’s interpretation of this trope was hilarious, but not without its unsettling undertones. In the Underworld of Eurydice, we saw a spectrum of Stones — little kid Stones, parental stones — that were basically the lifeless vestiges of a family, as well as humanity in general. Although they might have at one point been people, the Stones’ memories have been erased to the point that the only things that distinguish them from the landscape are their unmistakably human bodies.

Liv Combe, Staff Writer

In Eurydice, playwright Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of the classic Greek myth, Ruhl sticks to the main themes of love and loss present in the original story. But in this slightly updated version — not quite modern-day, since the characters wear costumes ranging from three-piece suits and spats to 1950s housedresses — memory and nostalgia play more prominent roles. The addition of this theme is fitting, since the entire story of Orpheus and Eurydice builds up to one infamous backward glance.

We all know that Eurydice dies twice — in her first death she loses her husband and gains a father, but in her second death she loses both. The curtain falls with everyone dipped in the river and no one burdened by the pain of memory.