For centuries, audiences have been fascinated by the tragic story of Eurydice. The basic outline is always the same: Eurydice dies, and her broken-hearted husband Orpheus goes to the Underworld, begging for her release. The two lovers ALMOST complete the harrowing trip back to the Land of the Living, but when Orpheus turns and glances back, Eurydice is lost.
Director Frank Condon is staging a contemporary version with a surrealistic twist. Eurydice is transported to the Underworld in an elevator, which has rain falling inside. When she arrives, she’s bewildered by the strangeness. There are stones that talk – in fact, they’re rather sarcastic – and numerous rules that you simply have to follow – don’t ask why. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, but more sinisister. Things come to a head when Orpheus arrives, and the talking stones tell Eurydice to follow him. But she is torn, and uncertain.
“Wait, come back.”
“You can’t go back now, Eurydice!”
“Your husband is waiting for you, Eurydice.”
“I don’t recognize him. That’s a stranger.”
“Go on! It’s him!”
“I want to go home! I want my father.”
“You’re all grown up now. You have a husband.”
“That’s a stupid reason.”
“Orpheus braved hell to find you…”
You can sense this isn’t leading to a happy ending. But Condon has crafted an unflinching story of loss and separation. It’s a lean, searing 70-minute performance that ultimately nails this difficult subject as surely as an arrow hitting the bull’s eye. A memorable way for this veteran director to bow out after years of thought-provoking productions at River Stage.
"Eurydice" continues through May 16th at River Stage on the Cosumnes River College campus.