Before the evening of Nov. 12, I had not seen a dead man kill himself, I had not seen a house made of string, and I had not seen a raining elevator. After seeing Fairfax High School’s production of “Eurydice,” that all changed.
Written in 2003, “Eurydice” is a reinterpretation of the classic Greek tale of Orpheus and his wife, told from Eurydice’s point of view. Certain elements of the Greek style of theater are kept, including a chorus of stones in the Underworld.
The title character, Ally Pittman transitioned from the world of the living to that of the dead convincingly, showing a clear understanding of her character. When Orpheus (Harry Weger) wrote letters to his deceased wife, his emotions carried through as clear as a bell. Eurydice’s father, played by Dylan Halpern, also showed a very strong understanding of a rather abstract character, oscillating between powerful emotion and detachment.
The other characters in the show, including the Lord of the Underworld (Shakil Azizi) and the Nasty Interesting Man (Mike Anderson) demonstrated a strange but effective combination of creepiness and “otherworldliness,” as well as comedy. The Lord of the Underworld’s entrances on a tricycle provided a nice comedic relief from the general heaviness of the story.
Also prominent onstage was the Chorus of Stones, an ensemble of the dead encouraging Eurydice and her father to dip themselves in the river to clear their memories of the living world. The Big Stone, played by Ruth Rado, in particular had wonderful character movements, reacting to the onstage events with expressive gestures and faces.
While the characters and the story were interesting, the effects used in Fairfax’s production brought the show to another level. An onstage pool was used in combination with lighting to create captivating reflections on the ceiling, and an elevator to the Underworld opened to reveal rain inside. Also, a scrim was used to great effect, representing different locations from the Underworld to Earth.
Also worth mentioning is the music, composed by Fairfax’s Dylan Halpern. Halpern used variations of songs to create a unique soundtrack for the show, which filled gaps between scenes and provided a glimpse into Orpheus’s musical mind.
“Eurydice” raises many issues about life, love, and death. The tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice is well known, but the audience can’t help hoping that love will conquer all, despite the overwhelming odds. As the lights come up after the final act, the audience is left to wonder what true happiness is, and what love is truly worth.