Scotch’n’Soda puts on rendition of Eurydice
“The Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragic tale of love and loss,” says the director’s note in the playbill for Scotch’n’Soda’s Eurydice. The 90-minute show, which had three performances last weekend in the University Center’s McKenna/Peter/Wright room, was directed by Andy Minton (junior ethics, history, and public policy major) and Brad Sherburne (third-year architecture major).
According to Minton, the realization of this production began more than a year ago, when he first approached Sherburne with the script, written by American plawright Sarah Ruhl. The directors’ vision was immediately evident in the beautiful set. The McKenna/Peter/Wright room was transformed into an immersive world, which brought about a sense of whimsy and wonder.
Metallic objects such as ladles and eyeglasses hung from the ceiling; the quirky trinkets seemed like they were floating due to magic rather than fishing wire. The set teleported the traditional Greek myth into a more modern era, although the exact time period was ambiguous. The blue palette of the set — from the wallpaper to the umbrellas framing the stage — was a clever nod to the frequent references to water throughout the play.
Eurydice follows the story of two lovers, Eurydice (played by Jasmine Peterson, a sophomore computer science major) and Orpheus (played by Raz Golden, a first-year international relations and politics major). On their wedding day, Eurydice encounters a Nasty Interesting Man (played by Will Weiner, a junior social and decision sciences and statistics double major), who lures her to his apartment with promises of a letter written by her late father (Eli Diamond, a junior drama major).
Unnerved by the suspicious character, Eurydice tries to leave but falls down the stairs and enters the Underworld, joining her father. She also joins three Stones: Big Stone (Christine de Carteret, a fourth-year architecture and history double major), Little Stone (Larissa Jantonio, a sophomore communication design major), and Loud Stone (Erika Tang, a junior economics major).
The Stones function as a stylized version of a Greek chorus, bringing the play back to its traditional roots. Offering explanation and commentary, the Stones provide a necessary contrast to the rest of the piece, as they speak rhythmically and often in unison. The three actresses’ hard work on characterization was obvious, as each Stone had a distinct personality, walk, and voice. Their dark blue and green costumes were almost gothic; elements such as corsets and dark lipstick helped portray the darkness and bizarre nature of the Underworld.
The Underworld itself was denoted by a creative use of lighting: Colder, bluer lighting separated it from the more cheery, warmly lit Overworld. The blue lighting was no doubt used to conjure up the idea of water. After dying, Eurydice arrives via a rain-filled elevator: Water dripped from some invisible source above the stage, creating an aesthetically pleasing effect.
Although Weiner’s performance as Nasty Interesting Man was captivating and unnerving, he really shone as the Lord of the Underworld. The strange, childlike being, with a colorful, oversized bowtie and buttons, rode down the aisles on either side of the audience on a comically tiny tricycle. Weiner was perfectly creepy and hilarious as this character, and successfully portrayed the suspicious similarities between his two characters.
Golden, as Orpheus, was incredibly moving with his expressive face and entrancing voice. Since his character is left alone in the Overworld quite early in the play, the majority of his performances were monologues as he expressed himself through letters to Eurydice. While this had the potential to be redundant, Golden’s emotive performance kept the audience interested.
Although the acting was on par, it was the design that had everyone talking afterwards. First-year vocal performance major Ethan Crystal said, “With the limitations presented by the room, especially with the lighting, I thought they did an excellent job. I was really impressed.”
Lindsay MacGillivray, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, was captivated by the bold stylistic choices made by the directors. “The set and everything was really artistic. I felt it really captured the essence of the show ... and when the back door opened and there was the waterfall — that was really, really cool,” she said.
The small performance space had its strengths and weaknesses. It increased the feeling of intimacy, since everyone was so close; the performance was often brought right into the aisles next to the audience. MacGillivray said, “I left feeling very incorporated into the show even though I was just sitting there watching.”
The only drawback of the space is that those sitting any further than four or five rows back may have had a difficult time seeing the stage, particularly when actors were sitting or lying on the floor. However, given the intricate emotions in the delicate piece, perhaps the intimate space was the right choice.
For audience members who were already familiar with the traditional Greek myth, the show was a refreshing take on the story. “It was the traditional story of Orpheus, but with a twist.... It was much more relatable,” MacGillivray said. The directors’ efforts of more than a year’s work were worth it, as cast and crew came together to create this stylized piece in a cohesive manner.