“An elevator of rain, a chorus of stones, and a father who builds his daughter a room of string in the land of the dead.” The enchanted tale of “Eurydice” was performed in a contemporary fashion by the Madison Repertory Theatre this past month and stole the hearts of all those that came to see. Written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by the Madison Rep’s artistic director, Richard Corley, the play started off with a bang what promises to be a magical 15th season.
“Eurydice” tells the story of a young woman on the verge of marriage to her music-loving, handsome suitor, Orpheus. The classic tale outlines their love, their marriage, Eurydice’s curiosity and her subsequent death. Orpheus’ passion for his lost wife allows her to hear his music and poetry from the Underworld.
After many days spent with her deceased father and exploring her newfound world, Eurydice is given the chance to be with her Orpheus again. In the true fashion of star-crossed lovers, Orpheus looks back to see his wife, and in that split second their fate is sealed. They would never be together again in the living world. This play brought tears to the audience’s eyes with its representation of a tragic love that was not meant to be.
Laura Heisler played a stellar lead as Eurydice. Naive and youthful, full of life and spunkiness, she was enchanting in her shared scenes with the powerful and passionate Orpheus, played by David Andrew McMahon.
Their engagement scene was mesmerizing, almost as though the audience was watching a film, and it was a delightful treat to see two youngsters on the Madison Rep stage portraying the young lovers playing by the sea in the opening scene.
Heisler continued her charming portrayal once she got to the Underworld. Eurydice happens upon her father, played by the elegant and wise John Lenertz, although she does not realize yet that it is he.
Her father teaches her about the ways of the Underworld and introduces her to the three singing stones. The Big Stone, played by Jody Reiss, the Little Stone, played by Polly Noonan, and the Loud Stone, played by Karlie Nurse, guarded the gates of Hades with obnoxious antics and creatively outrageous costumes. Nurse stood out in her role as the sassy and sarcastic stone that put Eurydice in her place.
Scot Morton also did a fine job in his dual roles as the “nasty interesting man” and the Lord of the Underworld. The reason for Eurydice’s death stood firmly on his shoulders, and Morton did a fantastic job of completely preventing the audience from liking him. Of course, in this modern telling of a classic Greek myth, the Lord of the Underworld sported rock music, rubber nipples, stilts and a bright red tricycle in his appearances onstage. Imagination was not hard to find in this production.
Diane Dorsey rounded out the cast with a simple portrayal of Eurydice’s grandmother and an outlandish depiction of the mother of the Lord of the Underworld. Her goal was to seduce Orpheus after his own seduction into the Underworld. In an even wilder costume than her son, she did just that. The cast as a whole was well-put-together and well-prepared for this production, allowing the audience to be consumed with the tragic, yet surprisingly humorous, story that was playing out.
The set, as usual for Madison Rep productions, was used efficiently. A large broken grand piano lay across the back of the stage and was used as a partial entrance into the gates of the Underworld. The use of water in this show brought about a contradictory theme of life in the midst of death. A large pool was created in the middle of the stage and was used often by the actors.
The raining elevator into the Underworld was also a nice touch. Lighting and music seemed subtle but effective. And by far the highlight of the show was the costuming for the members of the Underworld cast, courtesy of costume designer Murell Horton. Oversized shoes and pants, bright makeup, big hair and outrageous props made for delightful scenes.
The Madison Rep continues to flourish and grow in its 15th season, and it did nothing wrong with its season opener, “Eurydice.” Five plays remain this year, and student tickets are continuing at their half-price rate. Theatre lovers should take note of the Madison Repertory Theatre this season; great things are yet to come.
Tickets for the next Madison Rep show, “The Credeaux Canvas,” are on sale at the Civic Center Box Office. Call 258-4141 or stop by the office at 211 State St. for your tickets.