I feel like I’ve busted most of the Cannonball Read rules by now. Anyone else fascinated that I’m keeping this up? Anyone reading this? Well, it entertains me at least… let’s me synthesize what I’m reading. It’s nice. Probably should spruce up the theme though. Well, I’ll get on that. When I have free time.
Anyway, back to books. Once again with a “probably breaking the rules” moment, I’m submitting the play that, yes, I’m going to be performing in come April. Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. I’ve read it before, in the collection A Clean House and other plays. However, I read it again this past Sunday – in fact, it was read “in voice.” Now, let me say this about table reads: no matter how well you know the play, you’re reading along as well as listening. Sure, maybe you’re highlighting as you go or marking out notes – I do that, sure. But you’re also reading every damn word of the play, even if it isn’t one of yours. Because this is bringing the piece to life. Having seen the A.R.T.’s production of GATZ on Friday, I’m very intimately aware of how novels can become theatre (do notice I’m not including The Great Gatsby in the list – I probably could, seeing as I got every word… but I didn’t have the text in hand, so I don’t count it) and that’s made realize for certain that theatre can be counted as a novel as well. We just happened to read this one aloud (stage directions and all).
Ruhl’s plays are beautiful. There’s no better word to describe them than “beautiful.” They will not fail to tug at your heartstrings, to lift your spirits, and to make you just feel magical and warm inside. I saw her newest show (the vibrator play) when I was in New York and I felt so uplifted and wonderful upon leaving. Finishing Eurydice, I didn’t feel happy – but I did feel as though someone blew up a balloon inside my ribcage. I felt lighter, more ethereal.
The story is that of the Orpheus myth, only from his wife’s point of view. And modernized – sort of. There are references to Mt. Olympus and the River Styx (and its tributaries – Lethe and the bunch) are heavily referenced and my character (Eurydice’s father) even gets dipped in Lethe at the end of things. Yet there are phones, there are Complete Works of Shakespeare, there are many more modern devices. Yet the play feels ungrounded in time and space. It feels like now and always. The characters speak so innocently and hopefully, even when its sad or difficult conversation.
People will be crying at this show. I nearly cried during the reading – because the play isn’t about Orpheus trying to get his wife back but instead about the relationships between Father and Daughter. Eurydice’s father takes care of her when she arrives in Hades and he protects her. Reteaches her. She is, again, his little girl – sitting in the shade of his great tree. He understands that this is more than he deserved, however, and when Orpheus shows up… he lets her go with him. Even though it kills him inside. It is heartbreakingly sad – especially so when she returns (as she does) and finds him to have forgotten her (thanks, Lethe!) and there is just that tug of what it is like to love someone so innately. Familial love is inherently so different from any other love.
I forgot, too, that Orpheus kills himself in this version. We don’t see it – but at the end, he arrives in the Underworld shortly after Eurydice herself gets back. He sees her… but then is wiped clean by the waters and that’s the end of the play. It is unbearably sad – but still, you just feel like a better being for having seen/read/heard Ruhl’s words.