Theater review: ‘Eurydice’ ‘Love, Loss, and Lots of Letters’

University of Rhode Island- The Theater Department’s fall production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” is beautiful and breathtaking as it deals with themes of “love, loss, and lots of letters.” At least this is how Ardemis Kassabian, who stars in the play as Eurydice, describes the show.

I sat there as the lights dimmed and the audience was hushed into silence, ready to take notes, but after what felt like a few minutes, the lights went up and the audience chatted about their favorite scenes and I realized my hand had not moved. As I wiped away a few tears and took a deep breath (one I felt like I was holding in the whole time), I walked away from Eurydice’s tragic journey knowing I had to see it again.

This interpretively modern tale is about Eurydice, a young girl filled with wonder who suddenly dies, and Orpheus, her loving husband, who creates songs so sad that the Lord of the Underworld opens up his gates for him. His only condition for bringing his wife back to the world of the living is that he is not allowed to turn around until they are both safely through the gates. Sadly he turns around, and this play is the take on Eurydice’s journey, through life and death.

The ensemble was such an important part of the play, filling the stage with movements and eerie noises. Many times they seemed to be reaching out, and I yearned for them to catch whatever it was, and, as one of the performers, Maggie Papa said, “The ensemble creates the world together”.

Before opening night I had the privilege of interviewing Ari Kassabian, who plays Eurydice, and Maggie Papa who acts as the Nasty Interesting Man. The audience simply sees the final product, but the show comes together following months of work starting in September. The actors have spent countless hours connecting with the characters. I asked Kassabian and Papa if they had trouble bonding with their roles. For Kassabian, she said she connected immediately, relating to Eurydice’s book smarts, and her eagerness to learn. For Papa, she said that it may have been difficult but with the help of the amazing director, or as she calls herself their “spirit guide,” Kira Hawkridge, it made it easier to explore. It was extremely helpful that she had so much body language and movement throughout the show. Personally, I loved the Nasty Interesting Man, he was creepy yet funny, and I enjoyed the bright, alarming, cynical colors on the character’s costume.

The costumes played an important role in helping the audience’s understanding of the story. For Eurydice it was a simple white wedding dress but with golden “ribbon” on her legs to symbolize the old greek myth the story is based off of, and in Orpheus’ costume there was a mismatch array of scarves, a boutonniere, stripes and patterns. The Three Stones and the Lord of the Underworld portrayed their desolate and hopeless world through the layers of gray and blacks. Another question I asked the actors was, “what kind of emotions should the audience expect to feel?” and Kassabian and Papa exclaimed “everything!” Kassabian went on to elaborate that there are “some moments of levity in the show but there are also [moments of] crippling sadness [as well],” so to all those going, bring your tissues, I might need them.

The show runs through Oct. 12 to 14, then Oct. 19 to 21 at 7:30 p.m., and October 15 to 22 at 2:00 p.m.. This show full of hard working actors will not be quick to leave your mind, and your heart, because a little piece is left behind, curled under the shade of the giant Oak tree, its leaves keeping you safe.