Walking my daughters down the aisle is something I consider on occasion. Sure, they’re only nine, seven and now about 17 months, but I know they won’t stay this way forever. Even though Lord knows I give it my best shot to keep ‘em little.
When “Her Father” begins to silently prepare for this moment in Sarah Ruhl’s esoterically intriguing production of “Eurydice,” now playing at Hayward’s Douglas Morrison Theatre, there is a connection that every father with a daughter certainly feels. It is that unwavering love, the passionate bond, the gentleness of a fatherly touch that sends slight ripples through every corner of their being.
“Eurydice,” (pronounced ur-ih-dih-see) is handled with just the right amount of pathos and delicacy. Directed with a sure hand by artistic director Susan E. Evans, the show creates firm truths on a marvel of a set designed with gusto by Michael Locher.
The play is an adaptation of the Ancient Greek myth of the oak nymph Euridice. Ruhl’s play is a relatively honest adaptation of the story, traveled to our literature from Greek writers Ovid and Virgil. The story follows the musician Orpheus (Aby George), as he travels to the underworld to bring back his new beloved bride Eurydice (a gentle Alisha Ehrlich). Eurydice was felled by tragedy on her wedding day, and if she is to survive the return, Orpheus must walk in front of her and not look back at her until they reach the surface. But tragedy returns a second time when he looks back at her just as they are about to reach daylight.
The strength of this production is everything that surrounds it. A constant cacophony of live sounds, which create the mystery and mayhem of the moments, almost acts as an extra character.
Evans direction is not something that is overpowering or intrusive. So much of the movement, with the exception of the three merrily eerie Stones, is slight. In certain moments, the attention to the detail of pace was very appealing. One of the most powerful moments in the show was seeing “Her Father” (a warm turn by Tom Reilly) practice walking his daughter down the aisle, which was handled with grace. Ruhl’s relationship with her own father, who died when she was 20, was certainly something Evans seemingly went to great pains to create on her canvas.
What was truly a constant marvel was Locher’s set that was so perfectly drab and subtly surprising. The little surprises that came with the set were wonderfully fulfilling.
The production was not without its hindrances. At other times, the pacing was slow and not engaging in moments. And while the acting performances were mostly solid, there were other moments where more depth and truth were needed in order to truly create a convincing underworld. I was not always fully convinced the characters were always fighting as hard as they could to accomplish their needs.
“Eurydice” is a bold step for DMT, and producing more shows as this one will certainly continue to be the norm. Which is as exciting and scary as someday walking a daughter down the aisle.
The Douglas Morrison Theatre presents “Eurydice”
Written by Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Susan E. Evans
The word: Go for the set, stay for the play
Stars: 3 out of 4
22311 N 3rd St Hayward, CA 94546
Tickets range from $10 to $29
For tickets, call (510) 881-6777 or visit http://www.dmtonline.com