Theatre Review: Eurydice

Phoenix Theatre explores the spaces in between in Eurydice

 

 

Letting go of a deceased loved one is an almost impossible task— one that is explored in whimsical way in Phoenix Theatre’s produciton of Eurydice, a play by Sarah Ruhl.

Directed by MFA candidate Jeffery Pufahl, Eurydice takes a contemporary view of the Greek myth of Orpheus, a man so overtaken by the grief of losing his wife (Eurydice) that he travels to the underworld to retrieve her. The twist in Ruhl’s version is that Eurydice reunited with her deceased father and is torn between the two worlds.

Right off the bat, the audience is transported into the underworld, with its smoke, fire and rules. A chorus of stones, both mysterious and mischievous, frolic, dance, twist and whirl as they move around the thrust-stage, even into the aisles. They are the keepers of the underworld, and the Interesting Man, their king.

The cast as a whole works, with Graham Miles the standout as the elegant and intriguing Interesting Man. Alysson Hall does a great job showing the playfulness and vulnerability of Eurydice as a young bride, although at times her speech is forced and pronunciation over- exaggerated. Orpheus’ tormented longing is front and centre in Derek Wallis’ performance, while Peter McGuire displays a sense of maturity and strength as Eurydice’s Father.

The chorus of Stones’ personality and physicality adds to the fanciful aspect of Eurydice. Draped head-to-toe in cobalt blue, they’re each set apart by a bit of flare — a beret, a belt, a ponytail —to show their individual personalities.

Other costumes by production designer, Mary Kerr were on point, with The Interesting Man decked to the nines in a smart black and red asymmetric suit and an impressive unitard painted in vibrant red and blues that shows every vein in his body.

The set, also by Kerr is angular and geometric, with a gigantic blood-red grid affixed to one wall and a huge moon-like orb on the other. In between lies grand double doors— the gates to the underworld.

The rest of the set is kinetic, the pieces are shifted and swirled by the chorus of Stones in a fluid way without distracting the audience’s attention from the plot.

The vibrant colours of the underworld, cobalt blue, lemon yellow and blood red are juxtaposed next to virtuous shades of whites and beiges of the land of the living.

This production explores both the land of the living and the land of the dead — and even the spaces in between using the space in Uvic’s Chief Dan George Theatre in some clever ways.

Actors are hoisted on the fly system as they go for a swim in the ocean. Letters and people are passed between worlds with a bucket system on pulleys and Orpheus calls down Eurydice in the underworld from the fly loft, adding to the sense of separation between them.

The sound by Neil Ferguson provided an electronic backdrop and brought this story — which is thousands of years old — into the 21st century, with meditative ambient tracks and heavy bass.

Lighting designer Bryan Kenney hit the mark contrasting the radience of the land of the living with the darkness of the underworld.

Overall, Phoenix Theatre’s production of Eurydice is a playful and artistic look at love, life, loss and separation. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIU’s ‘Portal’ magazine is turning 30 years old. (Image courtesy Chantelle Calitz)
Vancouver Island University’s literary magazine ‘Portal’ celebrates 30 years

Virtual launch featuring contributor readings took place April 30

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

Most Read