Eurydice and Orpheus at Filament Theatre Ensemble | Theater review
To kick off its 2011 slate, Filament presents a two-show evening, which begins with Ruhl’s Eurydice—a loose, contemporized adaptation of the Greek myth—and transitions, after a break, into Sade’s “rave” adaptation of Orpheus, a movement-based piece which, fidelity-wise, makes Ruhl’s play look like Seneca.
It’s no surprise that Ruhl’s wistful adaptation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth stirs directors’ hearts. The piece is rife with florid language (“I will always remember your melody! It will be imprinted on my heart like wax!”) which gets actors pitching their emotions high, if vague, from the get-go. More important, perhaps, it offers compelling theatrical puzzles. At one point in the script, Eurydice emerges from a rain-filled elevator; at another, she dips herself in the River Lethe. But how to stage it?
Ritchey’s competent production doesn’t tackle the material with particular flair. Despite taking place in a gargantuan warehouse, the action unfolds mostly in an alley setup at the room’s center, rendering the architecture largely irrelevant. The pretty cast—the actors look as if they could’ve walked straight out of a CW drama—commits to the material. But, in casting as in design, one can’t help but wish that this production had a stronger eye for the off-kilter, the unusual. Eurydice takes place in hell, after all, rather than Wilmette.
Those looking to relive their halcyon bar mitzvah days can stick around post-Eurydice for Orpheus, a dance-party version of the same myth, which uses booty-shaking pantomime and creepy commedia (all set to the spins of DJ Puzzle) to weave its yarn. The largely wordless narrative—which begins in earnest after several minutes of compulsory audience dancing—makes solid use of the space by moving actors around the perimeter and illuminating the warehouse at striking, creepy angles. DJ Puzzle’s soundtrack treads a familiar, vaguely ironic line between hard rap and Ratatat. But there are homespun highlights—including live music provided by Kevin Barry Crowley as Orpheus, and excellent clown work from Jack Novak, Nathan Paul and Lindsey Dorcus—to compensate.