The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a sad tale of lost love and the power of music. After his love Eurydice is killed by snakebite, a grief-stricken Orpheus journeys to the land of the dead in an attempt to bring her back. His music and grief move Hades, King of the Underworld, so much so that he allows Orpheus to take Eurydice back with him under one condition: he must not look back at her. Of course he cannot help himself. Just as they are about to escape he looks back and Eurydice disappears forever.
In her play, Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl reframes the myth to focus not on the bereaved musician but on his dead bride. Choosing instead to explore the challenges facing a young woman who, while she loves Orpheus, does not want to become trapped by that love. Eurydice’s journey becomes a thought-provoking exploration of a young woman’s discovery of her essence, even as she is losing it.
Director Matt White is not interested in yet another male-dominant exploration of the tale. Instead Eurydice demands to be taken as an equal; to become the Musician, not simply the instrument played. Rather than focus on why Orpheus turns back, the play imagines and endorses Eurydice’s ability to take control of a situation and willingness to sacrifice everything for her freedom.
Ruhl creates a fantastical world featuring an elevator that rains, water that sings, stones who talk and a house made out of string all of which resemble something more out of Lewis Carroll’s imagination than what we think of as classic Greek drama.