Friday, April 29, 2011

Gift Horses By Beverly Creasey

The IndepenDent Drama Society’s EURYDICE (through this weekend only) is my second encounter with Sarah Ruhl’s classically inspired tale of love and death and more death. The first time I didn’t connect at all with the play. This time I was charmed from the get-go with Lindsay Eagle’s magical production…and moved to tears by Eurydice’s overwhelming losses. The tragic loss of Eurydice’s father (after regaining him) was inspired by the death of Ruhl’s own father. She fashions a sort of “Gift of the Magi” for her characters above and beyond the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, transporting the play in to rich emotional territory.

Director Eagle knows the power of the audience’s imagination and she trusts us with an invisible thread by which her father creates a room for Eurydice … and an implied elevator which descends to the underworld (aided by Chris Larson’s inspired sound design). The “talking stones” in IndepenDent’s Hades are delightfully demented acrobats, some of whom, like Zach Eisenstat, flip effortlessly head over heels (and crack us up with a hilarious telephone voice), and some like Sierra Kagan, seem to be caught like deer in subterranean headlights Each and every stone is wonderfully unique despite their job as the Greek Chorus.

What a cast and crew Eagle has to work with. Anne Winneg is perfection as the sweet but foolishly naïve Eurydice. Greg Nussen is a pensive Orpheus who becomes heroic in the depths of his devotion. Cliff Blake breaks your heart as Eurydice’s kind and loving father and Adam Lauver evokes laughter and chills as a spoiled brat of a god.

Matthew Breton’s gorgeous, dappled lighting for a room and Abigail Neuhoff’s simple leveled set exemplify “less is more.” Samara Martin’s ingenious costumes for the stones help define their personalities in countless ways. (Even the lifting of a voluminous, circle skirt over her head for protection sets one stone apart.) I could recount endless IndepenDent touches which make Ruhl’s play resonate. See for yourself what a topnotch company can do with a script … and hurry. IndepenDent is disbanding after their next play.