SummerWorks Play Review: Eurydice, August 8

Toronto – Is it weird that there seems to be great interest in ancient plays and myths in SummerWorks? Two years ago it was Gilgamesh, last year it was Iphigenia at Aulis, and this year there’s not one, but three: there’s Hero & Leander (which I haven’t seen but have heard good things about), there’s ONE, and there’s this show, which, like ONE, revisits the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. Rather than being a total re-interpretation, Eurydice tells the story from the point of view of the title character; of course, Eurydice’s most notable feature in this myth is that she’s dead.

She doesn’t start off dead, though, so there’s a handful of scenes at the start of Eurydice about her and Orpheus’s love. Caitlin Driscoll and Justin Rutledge have a nice chemistry as the titular pair, and they certainly seem like a sweet couple. There’s an interesting monologue just before the two are married from Eurydice’s father (Hardee Lineham), who does start off the show dead, and pens some marriage advice, then tries to figure out how to get it to his daughter from down below.

It’s the father-daughter relationship that makes up a lot of the meat of the play, particularly after Eurydice dies, and much of it is very sweet. Through some quirk of fate, Eurydice’s father is the only one in hell who can read and write, and one of the few who remembers much about his life on the surface. Eurydice doesn’t recognize him at first, but eventually his words get through to her. Meanwhile, Orpheus is writing his own letters, and finding ways to get them to his beloved (“I’ll give this letter to a worm. I hope he finds you”).

Like all tellings of Orpheus and Eurydice, it doesn’t end particularly happily. There are some nice touches that make it seem like a hopeful story, though, and the attention to some of the details of the original myth make me smile. Most notable among these is Orpheus as the finest musician in the land, which makes the casting of local Toronto musician Rutledge particularly enjoyable. He favours the audience with a couple of songs, which are some of the highlights of the show.

Even the minor characters, the Lord of the Underworld (Jesse Aaron Dwyre) and the “three stones” (Elliott Loran, Moira Dunphy and Elley-Ray Hennessy) do a nice job with limited stage time. It’s a very well put together show and thoroughly enjoyable.

Eurydice runs through Sunday August 14th as part of SummerWorks. Check the website for schedule and tickets.

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Posted on by Brian in Reviews, Summerworks, Theatre

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