The designers for Round House Theatre’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice have produced a masterful solution to the challenge presented by this, shall we say, post-modern Romantic play. It’s a modern retelling of the myth of Orpheus (Adriano Gatto)—the skilled musician who loses his wife to death, goes to the Underworld to retrieve her, escorts her back to to life on condition that he not look at her, and loses her again—told this time largely from her point of view. What should you do when you are lost to someone you loved? Is is less painful to remember and regret, or to drown in the waters of forgetfulness?
Rather than precisely specify a ground plan and a look for her plays (think of the precision of Williams or Beckett), and rather than leave everything up to imagination (Shakespeare), Ruhl demands that the director and designers fill in the gaps with their own creativity. Consider, for instance, these stage directions from movement 2, scene 3:
The father creates a room out of string for Eurydice.
He makes four walls and a door out of string.
It takes time to build a room out of string.
Set designer Clint Ramos, lighting designer Colin K. Bills, sound designer Matthew M. Nelson, costume designer Kathleen Geldard, and movement coach Karin Abromaitis have collaborated to create a techno Hell to hold Eurydice (wide-eyed Jenna Sokolowski) and her father (Harry A. Winter, a petit bourgeois with quiet dignity): multiple playing levels on a grid of industrial scaffolding, a series of water effects that start very small and end up harrowing, punked-out kandy-kolored costumes for the Greek chorus of stones, Big Stone (KenYatta Rogers), Little Stone (Linden Taylor), and Loud Stone (Susan Lynskey). (In an inspired last-minute response to recent laryngitis, Lynskey is currently signing her part in ASL, no easy trick when you’re hanging off the side of that scaffolding.) Presiding, as it were, as the Nasty Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld, is the always-fun-to-watch Mitchell Hébert.
- Eurydice, by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Derek Goldman, Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Maryland