Since the time of the Greeks, plays have been a huge part of our culture. It makes sense, then, that Bradley’s own theatre would eventually put on a show about one of them. But instead of Hercules or Perseus, this play tells the tale of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice.
For those unfamiliar with the original myth, Eurydice is killed on her and Orpheus’s wedding day, causing her husband to travel to the Underworld and rescue her. When he looks at her before they return to the upper world, she is doomed to remain in Hades until she dies. It is a story ripe with tragedy, but this version, originally written by Sarah Ruhl, makes several changes.
Besides setting the story from Eurydice’s point of view, the play is modernized and focuses on Eurydice’s choice to return with her husband or remain in the Underworld with her father. The play also deals with memory loss when Eurydice suffers amnesia in the Underworld. In bringing Ruh’s play to life, director Scott Kanoff and the Bradley University Theatre pull off a magnificent production, thanks in no small part to its performances.
Ashley Bendien plays the titular heroine with both passion and charming innocence. Her enduring performance anchored the story and kept the audience invested in her fate. When she reunites with her father in the Underworld while losing her memory, Bendien’s cheerful personality makes the reunion all the more tragic since she doesn’t recognize him.
Peyton McDermott also stands out as Eurydice’s father, a loving man who longs to see his daughter again and delights at being able to share his memories with her. He shows his excitement at being able to connect with his daughter, and his scenes with Eurydice are truly the heart of the play.
Derek Yeghiazarian also makes for a great Orpheus, utterly driven by wanting to win his bride back from the dead. He’s daring and dramatic like other Greek heroes, and gives the play a conflict while Eurydice talks with her father.
But while the three main leads drive the story, it’s the people of the Underworld that have the most fun. Angelica Richardson, Maddy Brandt and Greg Savel have a great time playing three stones who act as a Greek chorus, bickering with the leads as they try to explain the rules of the dead.
As fun as they are, Erin Kennedy lives it up the most as the Lord of the Underworld. Kennedy goes all out in making Hades a mix of immature child and sinister adult. She adds a healthy dose of humor to the proceedings and is a joy to watch on stage, livening up the romantic tragedy.
Such tragedy is at the center of many Greek plays, and the performers here capture that ancient drama perfectly. Thanks to its performances, “Eurydice” is a wonderful play from the Bradley Theatre that captures the spirit of Greek myths while injecting some fun as well.