Posted on: April 28, 2022 Posted by: Sarah Schudt Comments: 0

I had almost no idea what to expect when I saw “Eurydice,” in the FPAC’s John and Angeline Oremus Theater on opening night Friday. I was familiar with the original Greek myth, and I had glanced at the Wikipedia page for this play before attending, but I scarcely knew what I was getting into.

I left the show that night having teared up six times, with a lot to think about.

“Eurydice” is based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. In it, Eurydice dies and Orpheus travels to the underworld to get her back. He plays a song so beautiful that Hades himself lets Eurydice go — on the condition that Orpheus not turn around to see if she is following on the journey back. If Orpheus turns, she will remain in the underworld. At the last moment, Orpheus, tormented by doubts, turns, and Eurydice is lost forever. 

Sarah Schudt

Graphic Designer

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Eurydice,” written by Sarah Ruhl, takes this basic framework and embellishes it. It is now a piece about mourning, about loss, about fathers and daughters. Eurydice now dies and enters the underworld (tricked in this play by a “Nasty Interesting Man” into falling from a great height) where she meets her father, who had died before her. The bulk of the play contrasts Orpheus’s grief over Eurydice’s death with Eurydice’s new joys of being with her father again.

Unlike in the original myth, Eurydice is the primary focus of the play, with it centering around her and her feelings. Her actions drive the plot forward. The play itself is very stylized, with unnatural dialogue and lots of monologues, and the set in this production is equally as stylized. The play is designed to be a playground for the set designer to go wild, and Stefan Roseen, the scenic designer, certainly rose to the challenge.

The set makes full use of the black box space of the John and Angeline Oremus Theater, with the space transformed into what looks like a beach with black sand and indications of waves on the floor. It is also two-tiered. There are no set changes throughout the show, but at one point the clever extension of strings from the ceiling creates a “room” for a character in a way that is quite effective.  

The costume design struck me as subtly beautiful. A running theme of yellow ties together Orpheus, Eurydice and her father. For instance, Eurydice’s father’s tie and vest are yellow to match Eurydice’s wedding dress. Her wedding dress, in fact, was so beautiful I heard audience members gasp when it was revealed.

Trailer for Eurydice.

Eurydice is a show with only seven actors, so how they conduct themselves and how a director directs them is vitally important. The direction of this production was effective and touching. One moment that was particularly impactful was when Eurydice’s father “walked” her down the aisle — while he stood alone on the ground floor of the set as Eurydice stood above on the balcony. The touch of giving Orpheus a cane in a critical scene was also inspired, though I won’t spoil why.

Aron Gomez, Natalie Cross, and Lucy West in “Eurydice.”

I was very impressed with the quality of the acting in this production. Lena Warner, who played Eurydice, has a very expressive face and used it to its full extent to create the whimsical and intelligently innocent nature of Eurydice. Her reaction when she recognizes her father for the first time caused me to tear up.

Jason Suwaidan, who plays Orpheus, has the unenviable task of the majority of his stage time being monologues. He is separated from Eurydice for most of the show and must carry his scenes alone, which he does well. He also, as far as I can tell, really plays the guitar, which is a lovely touch.

Joe Gomez, who plays A Nasty Interesting Man/The Lord of The Underworld, contorted both his body and his voice in ways that garnered the biggest laughs from the audience. A moment where he shoots back a glass of champagne and twists his entire body into a Z shape is especially effective. In addition to being humorous, he also is insidiously intimidating when needed and makes his scenes with Eurydice genuinely frightening.

The Stones, played by Aron Gomez, Natalie Cross and Lucy West, provide a sort of Greek Chorus, speaking in tandem for most of the show, and are both unsettling and perfectly funny in turn.  

The star actor of the night, however, was Dean Papadopoulos, who played Eurydice’s Father. Carrying himself with the stage presence of an actor twice as experienced, every moment he was on stage he was vibrant and alive, even when the focus of the scene was not on him. Although he is around the same age as the actress playing Eurydice, he interacted with her in such a touching and paternal manner that it made me tear up. There is a scene near the climax that is almost entirely his alone, and the hush and tension in the audience watching it was palpable. I firmly believe he could have a very bright professional theatrical career.

I did not know what to expect when I came to “Eurydice,” but I came away with a theatrical experience I will remember for a long time. I already have plans to see it again next week, and I would strongly recommend seeing it while you still can.

Tickets can be purchased here, and it runs through May 8.

Moraine Valley