This Saturday night, Staff Writer Paula Carrión attended CU Players production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice.

Directed by Molly Greenwold (BC ’26), Eurydice was a compelling production full of the sorrow and lyricism of Ancient Greek tragedies, made wholly enchanting by the heartfelt and amusing performances of the cast.

Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice is a retelling of the famous myth of Orpheus’ journey to the Underworld to bring his wife Eurydice back from the dead. In Ruhl’s version, we see Orpheus (played by Miranda Paiz, BC ’25) and Eurydice (played by Catherine Herrera, CC ’25) as two young lovers who—despite Orpheus’ distractions with music and occasional neglect of Eurydice—are getting married and feeling very happy at their party. Eurydice is quickly lured by the Nasty Interesting Man, or Lord of the Underworld (played by Eleanor Babwin, BC ’24), with the promise of a letter from her dead Father (played by Lonnie Miller, BC ’25), which he wrote and sent from the Underworld. Said letter is touching and sweet, and included marriage advice such as “cultivate the art of dancing.” 

Nasty Interesting Man is quite an appropriate name, for it is nasty indeed the way in which he manipulates Eurydice and intends to make her his wife—and for the striking amount of times he uses the word “interesting.” Babwin’s interpretation of the Nasty Interesting Man provided, however, one of the most laughter-inducing characters of the play, which was impressive considering how well she balanced this along with delivering chilling and shrewd lines.

Herrera’s Eurydice unfortunately falls for the Nasty Interesting Man’s trick and meets her untimely death away from her beloved Orpehus. To represent her dying, the production cleverly used ladders and sudden light changes, which also marked all of the dealings and communications between the land of the living and the Underworld throughout the play, creating a truly complex and multi-dimensional stage.

Once in the Underworld, Eurydice meets her father but sadly cannot recall who he is or what he means to her; upon dying everyone is bathed in a river whose waters make you forget everything about yourself, others, and about words themselves. Luckily, Eurydice’s Father can still recall everything though, and so when he sees her daughter in the Underworld he tries to soothe her and make her feel at home as much as possible. It is this father-daughter relationship which makes for the tenderest parts of the play, and Miller’s heartwarming and sensitive performance create a genuine atmosphere of love in the scenes with Eurydice. The cast did a wonderful job of portraying filial love, its magnitude and it not being shadowed by romantic love.

Interspersed with the Underworld we see Orpheus’ increasing despair when trying to find Eurydice. Paiz does a great job of acting as the heartbroken lover, who also happens to be a little too obsessed with music, but who is therefore capable of writing the most charming verses. “I wonder if you miss reading books in the Underworld,” writes Orpheus in one of the many letters he tries to send to Eurydice via worm. He also tries calling her, sending books, and writing songs until he finally manages to discover a way in which his singing can carry him all the way to the Underworld.

In the meantime, Eurydice and her Father have created something close to a home in the Underworld, so when Orpheus arrives Eurydice is conflicted as to whether she should follow him out into the land of the living. Just like in the original myth, the condition for Orpheus to save his bride is to journey all the way out with turning back to see whether Eurydice is following him or not. In a great moment of tension, Eurydice makes Orpheus turn around and she is thus taken back to where his Father had already dipped himself in the waters of the river to be able to forget that he was losing his daughter all over again. The moment when Herrera holds in her arms an unconscious Miller is the climax in the despondency of the play, and the tearful speech she delivers while writing a letter to “[her] husband’s new wife” is as kind as it is melancholy: “I’m not worthy of you but I still love you…I think.”

Of course, I cannot fail to mention the Three Stones—a chorus composed of Big (played by Jamie Treatman-Clark, CC ’27), Little (played by Justine Dugger-Ades, CC ’26), and Loud (played by Iliana Weisberg, CC ’26) Stones who mimic the Classical Greek drama chorus but in a much more lighthearted and amusing vein. It is also important to point out how coordinated these actors were, since most of the Stones dialogues had to be delivered in unison. Another technical aspect worth praising was the use of the pool in the center of the stage to represent the river of forgetfulness, as well as the incredible shower which rained actual water on the actors. Props to the Technical Director, Melanie Brigham (CC ’24).

Eurydice ended tragically—in good Ancient Greek fashion—when Eurydice herself bathes in the river after losing her Father and writing a letter to Orpheus’ supposed new wife, and immediately after Orpheus appears in the Underworld (now dead), having evidently forgotten his identity as well.

CU Players, the cast, and crew all put on a great rendition of both the Greek myth and Sarah Ruhl’s play which had the audience alternating between laughing and tearing up throughout the entire production.

Image via Author