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Friday, March 28, 2008

Five reasons to see Eurydice

click to enlarge eurydice2.jpg

Image courtesy of Alliance Theatre

1. First, the best possible reason: it’s the finest play currently running in Atlanta. Playwright Sarah Ruhl's contemporary take on the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, running through April 13 on the Alliance Hertz Stage, is a lovely, luminous experience, and my review will run in next week's Creative Loafing. (I should acknowledge that I haven't seen the beloved Avenue Q, playing through this weekend, but to me, national tours don't "count.")

2. It’s not "difficult." The title may look forbidding, but it’s easy to pronounce: “You-rid-a-see.” Ruhl and the Alliance Hertz production give Eurydice a familiar, loosely contemporary setting, even though it’s based on the ancient Greek myth about two lovers separated by death.

3. It's funny. True, it's a bittersweet experience with its themes of love, loss and treasuring life, but Eurydice also features plenty of big laughs, especially due to Andrew Benator who plays dual roles, "A Nasty Interesting Man" and "Lord of the Underworld," both of whom are sinister figures but also awkward, childish and dressed in preposterous red outfits.

4. It’s not literally based on Greek drama. Ancient Greek plays can be powerful, wrenching works and unquestionably provided the foundation not just of theater, but most dramatic arts of any kind. Their stylized conventions don’t always translate very well to modern performances, however. Ruhl borrows some ancient Greek devices, and Eurydice includes a Chorus of obstinate Stones (reminiscent of the comedic chorus of frogs in Aristophanes’ comedy of the same name). Nevertheless, it’s an original work unbound by classical structure, allowing it to set a tone that’s neither completely comic nor tragic. It's more like one of Neal Gaiman's post-modern treatments of mythic tales in his Sandman graphic novels than Sophocles or Euripides.

5. It’s a follow-up to Metamorphoses. Georgia Shakespeare’s terrific, award-winning production of Metamorphoses (an adaptation of the myths of Ovid) included the same Orpheus-and-Eurydice myth, the same director (Richard Garner) and two of the same actors (Chris Kayser as Eurydice’s father and Courtney Patterson as a hilarious “Loud Stone”). Like Metamorphoses, Eurydice views an ancient myth through a modern sensibility, but Ruhl takes the tale in directions that are surprising and completely enchanting.

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