March 4, 2020
Bold Eurydice definitely worth the theatrical cultural adventurer’s time
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
Always admire a community theatre that stretches the boundaries of the live performance art experiences it offers its patrons. Carousel Theatre of Indianola continues to give their cultural reach great flexibility with their compelling production of Eurydice. This committed band of thespians forges new trails, offering an eclectic foundation mix of comedies and musicals…then, like a delightful dash of an unexpected, tantalizing spice, a production like Eurydice. May we all live spicier lives.
Carousel has a wonderful community partner in Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Innovations, whose events space provides the company with chameleon-like adaptability. Eurydice is an immersive experience complete with Greek chorus, tragedy and some quirky humor threaded throughout. This thought-provoking work by esteemed playwright Sarah Ruhl, who gives the Greek myth about Orpheus twists from the original story-line into a retelling from Eurydice’s perspective. This tale revolves around Eurydice’s quandary to either return to earth with Orpheus, her love, or to stay in the underworld with her father (a character created by Ruhl). The journey through the play, as well as for the audience, is filled with challenge, as the script and its stage manifestation create some bumps along the road. Still, the overall journey, much like all adventures, is worth the challenges encountered.
Director Chris Williams unifies a talented cast for this challenging script. He has taken a challenging script and wrangled it into a darkly seductive work. Although some of the pacing is uneven, each cast member displays a good understanding of their roles and, more importantly, how their roles fit with each other. This production definitely makes the scenic design its own complex character and must surely have been an irresistible project for scenic designer Natalie Hining. Her design continued delivering surprises, enhancing the experience as the show progressed. Such creative application of design elements is always praiseworthy.
In the title role, Andra Peeler DiMarco gives a soulful interpretation as the forces of love (true, paternal and worldly) are subject to the whimsy of forces seemingly beyond her control. Alex Lindsley’s Orpheus captures the elation of love leading through his precipitous plunge into melancholy following the loss of his wife. As Father, Joel Hade delves deeply into his character, giving some richly textured nuances building to his fatalistic choice. The Greek chorus of Michelle Vaudrin, Molly Larche, and Amanda Jackson playing Little Stone, Big Stone, and Loud Stone, respectively, elevates the power of their scenes with their synchronistic physicality and vocalizing. As both the Nasty Interesting Man and Lord of the Underworld, Shawn Pavlik is the most impressive piece of this prophetic puzzle, as he completely embraces the wide-ranging elements of his roles, from chillingly evil to snottily childish, with many dashes of humor.
This script challenges in an appealing way, and Carousel brings its “A” game to all the aspects of Eurydice. A special tip of the hat goes to Tim Williams’ sound design, as the audio infusions added to the mood-setting and somber atmosphere. There were times when Shawn Jensen’s tightly focused lighting design was missed by an actor, leaving parts of performances, and the facial expressiveness, in the dark. However, the imperfections of this production are greatly outweighed by a strong theatrical package, making this a most worthy journey into a mythical underworld.
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