Eurydice

From Shakespeare to Sarah Kane, retellings of classical myths have proved ample sources for new, distinct creations. This is the thinking behind the latest offering from Outcast International: Eurydice, a retelling of the classical tale of Orpheus, from the perspective of his eponymous wife. There are certainly parts of the play that can be praised, namely Eurydice herself: Amanda Thomas brings an infectious playfulness and joy to the part that brings many a smile to the audience, while still being able to handle the more dramatic scenes convincingly. She is clearly an incredibly talented and enthusiastic performer who succeeds in bringing the role of Eurydice to life. It’s just a shame she’s attached to this rather weaker production.

Ultimately, some small parts of this production work on their own, but, when brought together with the more annoying or troublesome parts, this creates a whole that isn’t strong enough to recommend.

To evoke another classic myth, the Achilles heel of this production is its incredibly erratic tone. It can never seem to decide if wants to be taken seriously or not. The costumes, props and general direction of the actors is comedic, bordering on cartoonish, with rampart overacting from many members of the supporting cast, giving the whole play a rather silly tone. This itself is completely unsuitable for the text and story, which deal with the weighty themes and issues of loss, memory and fear of death, before a surprisingly dark ending that leaves you confused and unsure how to feel. The ridiculous and frankly over-the-top tone sucks any of the potential drama or pathos that occurs in the darker scenes. Watching someone try to mourn the loss of a loved one isn’t quite as affecting as it should be when they’re being heckled by a comedic chorus of sentient rocks. In addition, the production is burdened with an imperfect script, the story has several contrived plot points, and there are inexplicable character portrayals - such as Orpheus being so stupid that he honestly thinks he can contact a dead soul through a phone directory.

What makes this all the more annoying is that there are a few hidden gems in the midst of everything else, that hardly get to shine. Eurydice’s relationship with her father, played by Wyatt Galusky, is genuinely very touching and the scenes they share together are played with a subtle grace not seen elsewhere. Further, there are a few sparse pieces of physical theatre and dance, performed by Thomas herself, which are interesting enough to watch but not utilised enough to leave an impact. Ultimately, some small parts of this production work on their own, but, when brought together with the more annoying or troublesome parts, this creates a whole that isn’t strong enough to recommend.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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The Blurb

Told in narrative, in song and in dance, this modern re-telling of the Orpheus myth by American Pulizer Prize and Tony Award-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl will haunt your days and live in your dreams. Subtle, surreal and breathtakingly lovely, the tale is told from the point of view of Orpheus’ beloved, Eurydice, who meets her dead father in the Underworld but cannot remember him. Through patience and tenderness, her father teaches her to remember. However, when Orpheus plays music so beautiful that the gates of the Underworld open for him, Eurydice must make a choice.

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